After Son's Death, Marine's Parents Grow Close To His Platoon

Jan 23, 2015
Originally published on January 23, 2015 8:14 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Today, memories of a fallen Marine - in January, 2005, Lance Corporal Brian Parrello was part of a Marine unit patrolling near Iraq's Haditha Dam when he was killed by an IED. He was 19 years old. Brian was the only member of his platoon who did not make it home. In the 10 years since his death, Brian's platoon has grown close to his family. And one of those Marines, Sergeant Kevin Powell, interviewed Brian's mother, Shirley Parrello, for StoryCorps.

SHIRLEY PARRELLO: Tell me about the day Brian died.

SERGEANT KEVIN POWELL: We took fire that day. And we heard a large explosion, and we could feel it. I see that Brian's laying there with his shirt cut open. His rifle had been blown in half from the IED that he hit. I grabbed his hand, and he looked at me. And he wasn't yelling, and he wasn't upset. I can still picture him. And I picture him all the time. I spent a lot of time laying in bed, not being able to go to sleep, just thinking, what if I had done something differently? What could I have done better? I still have those thoughts.

PARRELLO: I wanted to make sure that none of you guys felt as if we blamed anybody for what happened and that I know you guys did the best you could. I'm just happy that he was with his other family, even though we couldn't be there with him. He was with people that loved him.

POWELL: I still think about that day every day. But our relationship has most certainly made it easier.

PARRELLO: The day that I met your platoon - do you remember?

POWELL: I couldn't wait to meet you and give you a hug. I remember running through my head what I'd say to you. I walked up to you, I gave you a hug, and I didn't say anything because I couldn't. And I'm sorry for that.

PARRELLO: You don't have to apologize because the hug was enough. As a little boy, when he would go to bed at night, I would tuck him in and give him a kiss and a hug. And then I'd walk out of the room, and he'd say, one more hug, mom. This would go on. I mean, it was like 10 times I'd have to go back and forth. And at the time you're thinking, come on, Brian, please. You know, it's late. And now I would give anything to have one more hug.

POWELL: The day that you lost Brian, you gained 20-something other sons. And we'll always be your sons.

PARRELLO: Yes, you were his family. So that means you're my family.

POWELL: Never ceases to amaze me in how strong you are - the things that we talk about that I can hardly talk about - and he was your son. And I want to tell you I know you're hurting. And I'll always be there for you.

PARRELLO: I know.

POWELL: For as long as I'm alive.

GREENE: That was former Marine Sergeant Kevin Powell with Shirley Parrello, whose son Brian was killed in Iraq 10 years ago this month. Powell and other members of Brian's platoon recently marked that anniversary with Brian's family in his hometown of West Milford, New Jersey. The story originally aired on October 25 of last year on Weekend Edition. It's archived at the Library of Congress. And you get the StoryCorps podcast at iTunes and at npr.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.