Parents of Green Beret killed in action 'humbled' by Puyallup's effort for them

Bryan Black enlisted in 2009 and became a Green Beret medic. (Photo courtesy: Black family)

PUALLUP, Wash. -- The parents of a Green Beret killed in West Africa say they're truly honored the city of Puyallup is holding a public memorial Sunday for their son. Staff Sgt. Bryan Black and three fellow Special Forces soldiers died in an ambush last month.

"We're really kind of humbled that the community thought of us," said Bryan Black's father, Hank. "And that they would pay respect to Bryan by doing that." He and his wife, Karen, now have the tragic distinction of being 'Gold Star parents' having lost a son in battle.

They don't want to dwell on the whole controversy surrounding the deaths of their son and his fellow soldiers. They want to honor their son's memory. "Very focused on his job, loved his family dearly and his kids and cared about people," said Hank Black. "Extremely determined and willing to work or do whatever it took to meet his goals," said Karen Black.

Bryan Black was raised in Puyallup. He was a standout at chess and wrestling. He enlisted in 2009 being accepted into the elite Green Berets and furthermore a medic. "He had contemplated going on in his education going into some aspect of medicine and so that was a natural choice for him to become a medic," said his mother.

He learned several languages, including the one spoken in Niger where he sometimes tended to injured civilians. Hank Black said, "And just wanted to know them as people and learned it and told some good stories about how the locals recognized him as one of the few outsiders that learned their language."

He was on patrol in Niger on Oct. 4 when his patrol was ambushed by enemy insurgents. He was killed along with Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright and Sgt. LaDavid Johnson.

The news hit hard. "Grief," Hank Black said.

Karen Black said, "Fog."

"Loss, anger. Just a whole range. It kind of overwhelms you when you hear news like that," added Hank Black.

Bryan Black left behind his wife, Michelle, and two children. His parents say he leaves quite a legacy that they hope others emulate. "One is to really focus on what you've decided to do and put 100 percent into it and the second was to care about people," his father said.

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The public memorial is at 3 p.m. Sunday at Pioneer Park Pavilion. The family says they plan to be there.

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