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Soldier from Lucerne Valley killed in Afghanistan

May 16, 2012

By KRIS REILLY
EDITOR

LUCERNE VALLEY • A 25-year-old soldier from Lucerne Valley was killed on Mother’s Day while serving in Afghanistan, the Department of Defense has announced.

Sgt. Brian L. Walker died Sunday near Bowri Tana, Afghanistan, when a vehicle under his command was hit with an improvised explosive device. Pfc. Richard L. McNulty III, 22, of Rolla, Mo., was also killed during the attack, and three other soldiers were wounded.

John Cosato, a Navy veteran, displays pictures of local military members on the wall of his Lucerne Valley Barber Shop; among them is a snapshot of Walker in his Army fatigues, flashing the bright smile he was known for.

“He was one of the best kids we had in this town,” said Cosato, who had cut Walker’s hair since Walker was in elementary school. “Everybody has an enemy, but I didn’t know anyone who didn’t like Brian. ... It’s always sad when we lose someone over there, but it hits a lot harder when it’s someone you know.”

Walker attended Lucerne Valley High School and was an officer in the FFA program there. LVHS agriculture teacher Troy Van Bavel said Walker was “a really nice kid” who had a lot of friends and worked hard to show his FFA projects at the San Bernardino County Fair during his three years with the program.

Karol Thompson, who worked at the high school while Walker attended there, accompanied him on a student trip to London during the 2004-05 school year and said Walker was the jokester of the group.

“He had a great sense of humor and he was very kind,” Thompson said. “He made jokes and he was just a happy-go-lucky guy.”

Cosato said Walker worked at a local animal feed store before joining the Army in 2007. Walker’s friend Anthony Vasquez said Walker had gotten married relatively recently.

Walker served at Fort Bragg, N.C., before arriving at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) in Alaska in August 2011. This was Walker’s second deployment to Afghanistan, according to a JBER release. His previous deployment was from May 2009 to May 2010.

Walker was the commander of the vehicle at the time of the incident and McNulty was the driver, the JBER release stated. Both were military policemen assigned to the 425th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. The Army has already notified Walker’s next of kin.

Walker will be laid to rest on May 31 in Kingman, Ariz., and a memorial service will be held June 2 in Lucerne Valley. Find details here: http://lucernevalleyleader.com/node/629.

Anita Herdman said Walker was a former student of hers; she kept in touch with him after he joined the Army and was still hearing from him regularly at the time of his death. She wrote in an e-mail:

“What a great kid, young man, outstanding soldier. Will be missed but never forgotten.”

Kris Reilly can be reached at editor@lucernevalleyleader.com or at (760) 985-8372.