The phone call came on June 6, 2010, as Austin Bury ’11 was on his way home from Canada, where he had been racing as a member of Malvern Prep Crew. The call was from his dad, Tim, who delivered the news that Austin’s cousin, 26-year-old Marine Sgt. Brandon Bury, had been killed while supporting combat operations in Afghanistan. The news weighed heavy on Austin’s heart as he endured that long trip home.
Brandon Bury had already served two tours in Iraq before he was deployed to Afghanistan in April 2010. He had most recently been assigned to train Afghan police officers, and spoke to family and friends about making progress with the local population. “He had a light about him when he walked into a room, and everyone was always drawn to him," said his wife Heather, mother of Brandon’s 4- and 2-year-old sons. “He was the kind of man who wanted to help everyone.”
Rowing provided comfort for Austin, who greatly loved, admired and respected his cousin. He focused his energies on the US Rowing Youth National Championship in Cincinnati, and the US Rowing Junior Men's National Team Selection Camp, but his commitment to crew meant he was unable to join his family in attendance at both Brandon's funeral in California and memorial service in Houston. Brandon was in his thoughts last season, and this year the loved one he lost will be with him throughout the racing season.
A brand new quadruple scull, a gift of an anonymous donor, was christened as the Sgt. Brandon C. Bury USMC at a ceremony on Saturday, April 2, at the team’s boathouse, located at 601 Washington Street in Conshohocken. The Malvern Prep rowing team was joined by family, alumni and friends at the special event, which included a Marine Corps Honor Guard and chaplain, a blessing of the boat by Malvern’s Head of School, Father James R. Flynn, O.S.A., and comments by the Bury family.
“This scull is no longer just a scull. It is a legacy,” Fr. Flynn said when blessing the Sgt. Brandon C. Bury USMC.
“It was amazing how, with the help of many, this event came to be such beautiful tribute to all of our American heroes,” said Betsy Bury, Austin’s mother. “Brandon's father, Brian, and mother, Terri, are overwhelmed with gratitude to Malvern for this honorable recognition of their son. We hope that Sgt. Brandon C. Bury USMC will see Malvern Prep all the way to Nationals this year.”
“The passing of Brandon Bury was tragic, but a little part of him still lives in this boat and in the boys who will be rowing it down the river,” said rowing coach Craig Hoffman. “More than anything, the boys really feel motivated when they get into this boat.”
“It really helps to remember him and to try to live the way that he lived, as such a strong person,” Austin Bury said. “It motivates us to practice hard and race hard.”