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Airman who died in Afghanistan comes home to Oswego

Final honors

Visitiation for Capt. Brandon L. Cyr will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Dunn Family Funeral Home, 1801 Douglas Road, Oswego.

Funeral services will take place at 11 a.m. Thursday at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, 27 S. Edgelawn Dr., Aurora.

Cyr is the son of U.S. Navy Cmdr. Philip G. Cyr and Deborah Cyr, both of Alexandria, Va. Capt. Cyr will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date with full military honors.

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Updated: June 9, 2013 6:25AM

The sky was crystal blue, with temperatures hovering around a perfect 70 degrees. And the only sound that could be heard on this late Tuesday morning was the near-hypnotic flapping of U.S. flags — some big, some small, one gargantuan — as they gently moved in the spring breeze.

When there is so much emotion, yet so little sound or movement, it’s easy for one’s thoughts to go in all sorts of directions. What was going through the minds of these people who had gathered here at the Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove on this gorgeous May morning, I couldn’t help but wonder.

Suddenly, the silence was interrupted by the low rumbling of an engine. Seconds later, the white charter plane carrying the body of former Oswego resident Brandon L. Cyr flew out of the blue, then made an easy landing before pulling up on the tarmac.

Lined up in a patient row of sorrow were family and friends of the 28-year-old Air Force captain who was one of four men killed in Afghanistan April 27 when the MC-12 he was piloting crashed near Kandahar. Also standing in silent attention were uniformed personnel from Scott Air Force Base, along with local fire and police officials, as well as leather-vested members of patriotic motorcycle groups.

All were here to pay respects to this fallen comrade. And as the silence continued, emotions only seemed to intensify as the casket was lowered from the plane, then lifted reverently into the awaiting hearse.

Finally, there was sound. Motorcycles and cars roared to life, as the procession, led by members of the Patriot Guard Riders and Warriors’ Watch Riders, began crawling east on Galena Boulevard, making its way through downtown Aurora before turning right on Route 25 on its way to Veterans Memorial Park in Oswego.

There, another silent crowd had gathered and watched as Bobbi Jo Cyr placed a large wreath beside the eternal flame in honor of her brother, who had been a member of the 906th Air Refueling Squad at Scott Air Force Base.

A half hour later, the body of Brandon Cyr, who had been deployed four times to Afghanistan and had logged 900 hours of combat flying, traveled under the biggest flag of all, as the red, white and blue hung majestically between two fire trucks parked near Dunn Family Funeral Home in Oswego.

Because there had been little advance notice the captain’s body was being flown back to the Fox Valley, no doubt many wondered about the line of flashing vehicles holding up so much local traffic around lunchtime on Tuesday. Some cars in opposite lanes pulled over. Some kept going. Small groups of the curious lined up along roadways. A band of children and their guardians from a daycare grasped small U.S. flags, waving them — again, silently — as the procession passed. Equally silent were the saluting police officers from multiple jurisdictions who closed off busy intersections for the slow-moving black hearse.

And I continued to wonder what all these people were thinking … including the shoppers who strolled out of their favorite boutiques to stop and stare. And the golfers who ceased hitting little white balls long enough to look up. And the fishermen along the Fox River who turned away from their lines, at least momentarily.

Some only gave the procession a passing glance, continuing their jog or their yard work or their pickup basketball game or whatever activity was taking up their time on this fine spring day. Maybe they thought it was just another funeral. Of a dignitary perhaps.

Or maybe they figured it out: That it as a young person who had paid the ultimate price for his service to country. And if they did, I hope they paused long enough to say a prayer. And to thank him for all the blessings and freedoms they were enjoying on this fine spring day.

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