Lance Cpl. Brandon Dewey, a 2003 graduate of West High, was killed on Jan. 20, 2006 — exactly seven years to the date that the group of nearly 50 people honored the 49ers fan and car lover at Tracy Cemetery, where he is buried in the Little Arlington section.
He was killed during his second tour, having previously fought during the battle of Fallujah in 2005 during his first deployment.
The group shared a mixture of smiles and tears as Dewey’s mother, Julia Dewey Conover, and stepfather, Scott Conover, led a short memorial service next to his headstone.
The marker was flanked by American and Marine Corps flags, and flowers surrounded the base.
Several of Dewey’s high school friends were in attendance.
Paul McClain, who led the group in an opening prayer, described Dewey as “the kind of guy who gave you a hug instead of a handshake.” He said Dewey would make the nearly eight-hour drive from Camp Pendleton in Southern California to Tracy every weekend to be with friends.
“If you were having a bad day, he would always come and tell you that it’s not so bad and it could be worse,” McClain said. “He was all about having a good time with the people he cared about and loved, you know, his family and friends here (in Tracy).”
Dustin Lievsay, who met Dewey when the two were freshmen at West High, said Dewey was “the life of any party” and he thinks about Dewey’s smile and how he got friends involved in his antics.
“He was always getting into something,” Lievsay said, “and there was a moment when he would get that cheesy grin and you knew you had just become an accomplice in something.”
In the wake of her son’s death, Julia Dewey Conover started Military Moms Tracy. She said Sunday that starting the group and holding the memorial service each year helps “me cope with losing Brandon.”
She was “very grateful” for the community support on Sunday and at other times during the past seven years.
“Our purpose is to make sure that Brandon is not forgotten because he means so much to so many people,” she said. “I’ve been surprised that so many people have really come forward and supported Brandon. It inspires me to keep going.”
• Contact Joel Danoy at 830-4229 or firstname.lastname@example.org