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Lucky twice over: Loyalton grad shares experiences with Marines in Afghanistan

Mona Hill
Staff Writer
5/25/2011

According to his mother, Lorre Wallace of Quincy, United States Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Brenton Beever, a 2004 graduate of Loyalton High School, shares a unique experience with his late grandfather, Graeagle resident Francis Beever — he survived a near miss. Twice.

Beever recently returned stateside to Camp Pendleton after a seven-month deployment to the Sangin Valley of Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan.

“I didn’t go to fight for freedom, I fought for my brothers over there with me.”
Lance Cpl. Brenton Beever
United States Marine Corps

The elder Beever, a World War II Navy vet who served on an aircraft carrier, survived a kamikaze attack. Standing on deck with about six or seven shipmates, he was the only one to survive the attack.

In two incidents, Lance Cpl. Beever sustained concussions in IED strikes that killed one and maimed other Marines in his unit. He referred to the experiences as being “blown up.”

As part of the Corps’ 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, Beever spent 4-1/2 months on patrol, engaged in daily combat against Taliban insurgents.

Assigned to Kilo Company’s First Platoon in the 3/5, Beever’s platoon took fire daily on leaving its forward operating base (FOB — pronounced fob).

His patrol unit, made up of three squads of four men plus a corpsman, were part of a larger effort to clear the valley of particularly fierce Salafist and Taliban resistance. Beever estimated that 25 percent of the IED strikes in Afghanistan occurred in the Sangin Valley while he was there.

The rudimentary devices are used specifically as maximum anti-personnel devices: meant to maim and kill.

Two months in, Beever was on patrol with his unit when a Marine ahead of him stepped on an IED. The two closest Marines lost limbs; the third closest, Beever, was knocked unconscious and sustained a concussion.

He said on returning to consciousness, his intensive training kicked in to focus on saving the lives of his buddies.

He said the repetitious training helped him to “instantaneously move on” to stabilize and patch up the wounded enough to evacuate them.

Beever admitted, “It hits you hard later,” adding that if the other Marine had stepped over the IED, he would have been the one to be wounded rather than the others. He felt a bit of guilt about that, preferring to have been injured himself rather than someone else.

Beever also said that survivors in the patrol felt angry and wanted to avenge their comrades.

Asked about the potential to become reckless because of those emotions, Beever said, “(You are) always cautious outside the wire.”

His superiors must have had similar concerns because the patrol wasn’t allowed to leave the FOB for several days following that engagement.

For all its horror, the first incident was not as bad as the second. In that instance, Beever was within 25 feet of the IED when it blew — three or four Marines were injured, one fatally. Beever escaped with a concussion.

Beever also admits to nightmares from the first incident. He said he wakes up looking for his weapon; that it’s strange to be without it. The entire time he was in Afghanistan, he didn’t go anywhere without it.

The Marine command is calling the 3/5 “hard hit” with 26 KIA and 173 casualties from that tour. Beever will serve at Pendleton until he is deployed again.

Beever said, “When you go over there and fight in a war like that … people ask, ‘Do you even know what you’re fighting for?’ … I didn’t go to fight for freedom, I fought for my brothers over there with me.”

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