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City to host memorial service for Green Beret killed in Niger

Nov 13, 2017
In The News

The city of Puyallup will host a public memorial service on Sunday (Nov. 19) to honor Army Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, who died in an ambush in Niger last month.

Black, 35, grew up in Puyallup and was a Puyallup High School graduate. Black’s father, Hank, is a Puyallup resident and described his son as loving and loyal to his family and friends.

“Whenever I visited or talked to him on the phone, he always ended with ‘I love you, Dad,’” Hank said.

Bryan had a wife, Michelle, and two children: Ezekiel, 11 and Isaac, 9. As detailed in a News Tribune story published last month, Bryan’s mother, Karen, said Bryan excelled in wrestling and chess growing up. Bryan earned both his high school diploma and associate’s degree from Pierce College at the same time.

Black enlisted in the Army in 2009 and was awarded the Army’s Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal during his service.

Black was killed on Oct. 4 alongside three fellow Special Forces soldiers: Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39; Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29; and Sgt. La David T. Johnson, 25.

“The main thing is to know, along with his three other teammates that were killed, all of them were willing to lay down their lives for others,” Hank said. “...We have no doubt that when the ambush started, his first thoughts were, ‘What do I need to do to ensure I protect those who’re with me?’”

The Puyallup Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 2224 helped organize the memorial.

“We like to support our veterans and active members, especially someone who got killed in action,” VFW member Larry Heires said.

Hank said Bryan’s family members will be attending the memorial to remember Bryan and his service. He said he appreciates the city thinking about Bryan.

Green Berets will be attending the memorial, and Sen. Hans Zeiger, R-Puyallup, and Congressman Denny Heck will speak. There will be a rifle salute along with other performances.

The memorial will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday at the Pioneer Park Pavilion, 330 S. Meridian, Puyallup.