Lance Corporal Nicholas S. O’Brien
May 23, 1990 – June 9, 2011 USMC
It was the date on Nic’s grave marker that drew me to him. Lance Corporal O’Brien was just two weeks younger than my own brother who is currently serving in the Air Force. I simply could not imagine my brother gone at such a young age.
Nic’s first and last deployment to Afghanistan began in March 2011. His hometown paper later reported that as he was shipping out Nic sent his parents an email that read “If something happens to me, don’t cry over me because this is what I want to be doing.”
Nic graduated from high school the same year as my brother, 2008. From all accounts Nic was a talented baseball player who had been offered college scholarships. But, Nic was a guy with a different plan. His father said that at the age of fifteen Nic had decided to go into the Marines, “come hell or high water.” According to the Charlotte Observer, “His father said his son knew he’d be heading to Afghanistan. In fact, it was his goal to go there. He was a true American hero in every sense of the word, said Richard O’Brien. He sacrificed his life for something he believed in.”
Nic’s brothers-in-arms told of how Nic valued most his position as the “point man” on patrols, because he was eager to protect his friends. Compassion and caring were traits Nic surely learned at home. This was evidenced at the time of Nic’s death. The O’Brien family requested that in lieu of flowers people instead send donations to the Josh Cawthorn Fund. Josh was Nic’s buddy who had been seriously injured in the incident that took Nic’s life.
Learning about Lance Corporal Nicholas O’Brien brought to mind words I read long ago. “I go to God through the sleep of death, A soldier – brave to his last breath” (Faust, Part I, Scene XIX).
Rest easy, Nic. You sleep in our memory.