Brian Matthew Bunting
Captain, United States Army
Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 129-09
February 26, 2009
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of four soldiers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died February 24, 2009, in Kandahar, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near their vehicle.
Captain Brian M. Bunting, 29, of Potomac, Maryland. He was a member of the Individual Ready Reserve, assigned to the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Syracuse, New York.
Sergeant Schuyler B. Patch, 25, of Owasso Oklahoma. He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 106th Cavalry Regiment, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Kewanee, Illinois.
Sergeant Scott B. Stream, 39, of Mattoon, Illinois. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 130th Infantry Regiment, 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Effingham, Illinois.
Sergeant Daniel J. Thompson, 24, of Madison, Wis. He was a member of the Individual Ready Reserve, assigned to the 715th Military Police Company, Melbourne, Florida.
For more information on Bunting, media may contact Mr. Eric Durr of the New York National Guard at (518) 786-4581.
For more information on Patch and Stream, media may contact Major Brad Leighton of the Illinois National Guard at (217) 761-3569.
For more information on Thompson, media may
contact Lieutenant Colonel Ron Tittle of the Florida National Guard at
(904) 823-0166 or (904) 823-0168.
Army Captain Brian M. Bunting was a Potomac star athlete, a West Point graduate, a man who could be serious and disciplined when he had to be. But the first thing that hits you when looking through his pictures, searching for the story of a life that ended in Afghanistan this week, is the smile: a huge, toothy, goofy grin that radiates an unrestrained happiness, most of all as he holds his 1-year-old son or the hand of his wife.
Perhaps that's to be expected from someone known to his friends and family as "Bubba," a nickname that has stuck through the trial of the past few days. Bunting, 29, a member of the Individual Ready Reserve assigned to the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Syracuse, New York, was killed in Kandahar on Tuesday when a bomb exploded near his vehicle. Three other soldiers died in the attack: Sergeant Schuyler B. Patch, 25, of Owasso, Oklahoma; Sergeant Scott B. Stream, 39, of Mattoon, Illinois; and Sergeant Daniel J. Thompson, 24, of Madison, Wisconsin.
It was Bunting's first combat tour. He had been mobilized after entering the ready reserve, a pool of soldiers who have completed their service but who remain available for call-up when needed. He had been in Afghanistan since June and became commander of a 15-person team responsible for training and advising the Afghan National Civil Order Police, a task that is the heart of the U.S. strategy for stopping the Taliban.
Major Thomas Benton, who knew Bunting in Afghanistan, described him as "a typical hard-charging West Point graduate. Good soldier, good officer." The job was the culmination of everything he had done before in his life. At the Bullis School in Potomac, Bunting distinguished himself as a scholar and an athlete. He was an All-Met football center and state champion wrestler and played lacrosse as well. He was a natural leader, those who knew him said.
"He was extremely disciplined, incredibly hard-working," said Tim Simpson, the admissions director at Bullis and a close friend of Bunting's. "He was one of those guys, he would get into a zone. . . . He would be out on the lacrosse field doing sprints, and people would just try to keep up with Bubba."
"He's just a great guy," his sister-in-law, Sue Bunting, said yesterday. "He just made everyone feel welcome and at ease."
His grades were good enough that he was admitted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. He ultimately chose West Point after graduating from Bullis in 1998, even though his father and two brothers had served in the Navy, a subject that got a chuckle out of his sister-in-law.
"Army-Navy games were fun," she said.
There was plenty of friendly rivalry in the large, tight-knit family, and Bunting's nickname originated as a bit of mockery.
"Brian is a good-looking wrestler, but when he was born, he was ugly," his older brother, Bobby Bunting, said in a 1997 Washington Post article about his sibling, who had just won a 152-pound wrestling title. "He had a bad face -- he was fat. He just looked like a Bubba."
But in photographs, the stern expression of his official West Point portrait in cadet gray melts away, particularly in pictures he shares with his son, Connor, and his wife, Nicole Pascal Bunting, whom he married in 2006. He last saw them in January, when he had a two-week leave from Afghanistan.
"That smile, that big, toothy smile, was something on his face 99 percent of the time," Simpson said. "He was just that kind of individual that you felt lucky to know."
His former wrestling coach, Alex Leiderman, lives outside Chicago. On Thursday night, he looked at a picture of the senior wrestlers in Bunting's class and cried when he read a note Bunting had written to him. "I will come back to visit you coach, when I make General," the note said.
Potomac, Maryland - Friends and family are mourning the loss of a Potomac Maryland man who died while serving in Afghanistan. Captain Brian 'Bubba' Bunting was a graduate of Bullis School and West Point. He enlisted in the Army in 2001. He was deployed to Afghanistan this last June. He had just returned home for a two week visit with family and friends. He was only back in Afghanistan for four days when he was killed by a roadside bomb. He is survived by his wife Nicky and 20 month old son Conner.
The family has set up a scholarship fund for
Connor. To find out more information on the fund go to Bunting's
For seven months in Afghanistan, the best way for Captain Brian M. Bunting to feel close to his infant son Connor was to watch tapes that he had made of the two of them reading books together. But for two weeks in February those tapes were put aside as Bunting came home to his family on leave from his duties with the U.S. Army.
Bunting returned to Afghanistan on February 20 and four days later he was killed, along with three other men, when an improvised exploding device detonated near their vehicle, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. A member of the Individual Ready Reserve, assigned to the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Syracuse, New York.
Bunting was 29.
In the days since his death, Bunting, who grew up in Potomac, has been remembered as a gregarious yet unassuming man who inspired those who knew him by leading by example.
"He was a natural leader but in the way that he wasn’t always intending to be a leader," said Tim Simpson, a close friend of the Bunting family. "I think his work ethic, his discipline … people saw that and they naturally were drawn to that."
"He was just always smiling, it was funny," said his wife, Nicki Bunting. That smile — a wide, toothy grin — was something of a trademark for Bunting. "He would always crack that smile, he was just the happiest person ever," said Nicki Bunting.
Brian Bunting was known by those close to him as "Bubba." Simpson said the nickname came about when Brian Bunting’s parents brought him home from the hospital after he was born. Brian’s older brother Bobby apparently thought his newborn brother looked less like a cute baby and more like a "Bubba."
The name stuck with Bunting as he grew up in Potomac, where he became a three-sport star and class president at the Bullis School. He was one link in a family chain that ran through Bullis — his five other siblings attended Bullis, his late mother Penny Bunting was an upper school administrative assistant and his father, Bob Bunting, was the longtime director of facilities at the school, said Simpson, who is the director of admissions at Bullis.
"He was the kind of kid that would do anything for the team, anything for his teammates," said Mike DelGrande, the Bullis athletic director who coached Bunting in lacrosse through middle school and high school. "He thought about [them] before he ever thought about himself. You followed him because you knew he was always doing the right thing." Those traits that he showed as a student he then took into his adult life, said DelGrande.
After graduating from Bullis, Brian Bunting elected to go to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, choosing the Army over the Navy despite the fact that his father and two brothers had both served in the Navy. That decision was made in part because Bunting wanted to play college lacrosse and he did so at West Point, said his wife.
That schism in the family was the subject of lighthearted strife, particularly during football season, said Simpson, who recalled going to an Army-Navy football game with the Bunting family while Brian Bunting was at West Point. Bob Bunting wore his true colors that day, supporting his son by wearing Army apparel from head to toe, Simpson said.
Brian Bunting’s Bullis connection ran even deeper than his parents and his siblings — it was there, too, that he met his future wife. Though the two were good friends while attending Bullis from sixth grade though high school, it wasn’t until after college that they began dating.
"We figured out what we wanted and that was each other," said Nicki Bunting.
Brian Bunting was a soldier and a star athlete, but his wife said she would remember him as someone seemingly born to be a father.
"He’s truly the most amazing husband and father anyone could ask for, I know everyone says that, but he was just born to have a family," she said. Their son Connor was born a year after they were married.
The son of a Navy man and a soldier for all of his adult life, Brian Bunting knew the risks he took. He had a file that he kept for his wife in a fireproof box full of forms and phone numbers that she would need if he died in the line of duty.
That file also included details about what he wanted done for his memorial service, right down to the three songs that will be played this Saturday at Our Lady of Mercy Parish.
The first two were songs that struck personal chords for Bunting, his wife said: Lynyrd Skynyrd’s "Simple Man," and Johnny Cash’s cover of "I Won’t Back Down." In memory of his mother, who died of breast cancer in 2002, he chose "Mama I’m Coming Home," by Ozzie Osbourne.
The days following Bunting’s death have been bittersweet, Nicki Bunting said. She has thought a lot about what her husband had told her when he was last home, that should anything happen when he returned to Afghanistan that he was OK with it. He had led a blessed life, he told her, and, with her and their son, he had everything that he had ever wanted.
Visitors to the Bunting home in recent days have invariably ended up laughing through their tears of sorrow as they recall how happy and how much fun Bunting was to be around, she said. Then on Saturday, February 28, the bittersweet got a little sweeter. Nicki Bunting found out that she was pregnant with their second child.
"It is the most wonderful news I could possibly be given at this time. We’ve finally been able to smile again — we have something to look forward to," Nicki Bunting said.
Perpetually buoyant and upbeat, Nicki Bunting said her husband would be floating on air with the news.
"We all know that he’s just so happy right now especially with this news of our newest child," she said.
Brian Bunting is survived by his wife, Nicole Pascal Bunting, their 19-month old son Connor and their expectant child, his father Robert Bunting, and five siblings: Robert Bunting Jr., Christopher Bunting, Stephanie Graver, Michele Bunting, and Kimberly Bunting.
The Buntings have created a college fund for Connor for contributions to be made in lieu of flowers.
Donations can be made out to: USAA College Savings Plan and can be mailed to: PO Box 83444, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20883-3444.
Relatives and friends may call at Our Lady
of Mercy Catholic Church, 9200 Kentsdale Drive, Potomac, on Thursday from
3 to 7 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will take place on Saturday, March
7 at 2 p.m. with shuttle bus service available at Bullis High School. Those
using the bus are asked to arrive by 1:30 p.m.
Captain Brian Bunting, 29, who was killed in Afghanistan on February 24, 2009, is survived by his wife, Nicki, and his son Connor, 1. Bunting was heading an Army team that acted as mentors to the Afghan National Police there.
The wife of Captain Brian "Bubba" Bunting, 1998 graduate of the Bullis School who was killed by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan February 24, 2009, has recently discovered that she is pregnant.
Nicki Bunting told The Gazette that it was her husband's "last wish" for their son Connor, 1, to have a brother or sister. The two had planned the pregnancy together and even picked out names for the new child, Bunting said — for a girl, Bailey Ann, and for a boy, Cooper Coleman.
"He didn't want our one son to be an only child, he wanted him to have siblings," Bunting said. "I know he's just so happy."
Her husband had been home for two weeks in January, Bunting said, and the two had changed the dates of his leave time in order to better plan the pregnancy. She discovered she was pregnant four days after hearing the news of her husband's death, she said.
"I swear, he was born to be a father," Bunting said of her husband. "All he cared about was having a family."
Brian "Bubba" Bunting was killed when an improvised explosive device exploded near his vehicle in Kandahar, according to a statement from the Department of Defense.
Three other soldiers — Sergeant Schuyler B. Patch, 25, of Owasso, Oklahoma, Sergeant Scott B. Stream, 39, of Mattoon, Illinois, and Sergeant Daniel J. Thompson, 24, of Madison, Wisconsin — were also killed in the attack.
Bunting was 29.
Bunting was a member of the Individual Ready Reserve and assigned to the 27th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of Syracuse, New York, according to the statement. Since June, Bunting had been heading a 15-man team in Afghanistan responsible for mentoring and advising the Afghan National Police.
Bunting graduated from U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a degree in civil engineering in 2002, where he also played lacrosse and intramural football, according to his wife. Bunting was stationed in Korea for two and a half years and was later stationed at Fort Knox in Kentucky, serving as a company executive officer and commander.
A decorated soldier, Bunting was honored with several awards throughout his career, including an Army Commendation Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, an Afghanistan Campaign Medal, an Army Service Ribbon and a Combat Action Badge. Posthumously, he was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star Medal.
The couple welcomed their son Connor in July 2007.
"Connor and I moved back to the area before Bubba deployed in order to be closer to our family and friends," Nicki Bunting said in the statement released to the media. "We planned on settling in the area permanently upon his return and expanding our family. Family was the most important part of Bubba's life."
According to Tim Simpson, director of admissions at Bullis, the Bunting family has strong ties to the school. Bunting was one of six children, all of whom attended the school. Both of Bunting's parents worked at Bullis as well — his father, Bob, as director of operations and his mother, Penny, as upper school administrative assistant. The family lived in on-campus housing at the school, Simpson said. Bunting's mother died of cancer in 2002, and his father no longer works at the school, he said.
"The Buntings were a rich part of Bullis history at that time and anybody here associated with the school knew who they were," said Simpson, a close family friend of the Buntings. "Penny was a mom away from home to a lot of the kids here."
Many faculty members have fond memories of Bunting, said Simpson, whose brother was best man in Bunting's wedding, a ceremony that took place Lady of Mercy Catholic Church in Potomac in June 2006. In speaking with his brother about Bunting's passing, Simpson said, "He thinks Bubba was class president from eighth grade on. He was a real leader, and somebody who was universally respected."
Bunting played football and lacrosse and also wrestled during his time at Bullis, Simpson said. He described him as a man dedicated to three things — family, friends and country.
"You see pictures of him with a big, goofy smile on his face, and that was Bubba 99 percent of the time," Simpson said. "Whoever came in contact with him felt that positive energy and what a unique and special individual he was."
Nicki Bunting described her husband as positive and upbeat. "He was just the happiest person you'll ever meet — he was always looking on the bright side of things and always looking for the silver lining," Bunting said. "That's something he taught me."
Details of a memorial service for Bunting will remain private, though memories and condolences can be posted online A scholarship fund for Bunting's son, Connor, is planned.
BUNTING, BRIAN MATTHEW
Posted: 12 March 2009 Updated: 18 March 2009 Updated: 28 June 2009 Updated: 14 December 2009