Losing one son to war is enough, father says
Saying his Army sergeant son died in a good cause, he expresses hope his other sons won’t have to do the same.
By MICHAEL VAN SICKLER
Published July 4, 2006
TAMPA — As their father spoke about how courageous their brother was, Matthew and Joshua Luckey sat silent, staring hard at the floor.
Army Sgt. Bryan Christian Luckey died Thursday when a sniper shot him in the head in Mosul, Iraq. His father, Pat, spoke Tuesday during the family’s first news conference since Luckey died.
“He knew the risks,” Pat Luckey said. “If not for soldiers like him, we wouldn’t be free.”
Pat Luckey considers his to be a “strong military family.” He served in the Army Special Forces and Bryan’s younger brother, Matthew, is a Marine.
But even on the Fourth of July, a proud father such as Luckey hesitates to see his other sons follow Bryan into combat.
“Losing one son is enough,” Luckey said afterward. “I hope they don’t go.”
Death is ever present these days for military clans like the Luckeys, who became the third Tampa family in a week to lose a son to war.
Pat Luckey said he holds no bitterness in his son’s death because he believes it was for a worthy cause.
“He was such an inspiration,’’ Luckey said. “A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his brother.”
Bryan Luckey had long wanted to become a Baptist preacher. He was a joy as a son who didn’t let peers steer him away from his commitment to God and country, Pat Luckey said. When he attended Leto High School, he wore a tie, carried a Bible, and joined the ROTC.
“He didn’t care what people thought of him,” Pat Luckey said.
Bryan met his wife, Catherine, in high school. She attended Tuesday’s news conference at Westgate Baptist Church, but the pastor, the Rev. Bruce Turner, asked reporters not to ask her questions.
“The stress of the afternoon has been too great,” Turner said.
Pat Luckey said that during Bryan’s visit home in February, Catherine became pregnant. The day after Bryan died, Catherine learned that the baby, expected in October, would be a boy.She’s already decided to name the baby
Bryan Christian Luckey, in honor of the father he will never meet.
The family will be at Tampa International Airport when Bryan’s body is returned Friday.
Dressed in a crisp Marine dress uniform, Matthew Luckey, 23, furrowed his brow as his dad spoke. Matthew expects to begin his second Iraq tour in October.
His wife, Tiffany, burrowed her hands into his as he listened to his father talk about Bryan’s sacrifice.
After Tuesday’s news conference, Pat Luckey said he hoped Matthew’s plans to return to war will change.
“They have two babies, and they’ll really need him,” Pat Luckey said. Like his older brother, Matthew became devoted to the military after Sept. 11.
“I’d prefer he stay, but he wants to go back,” Pat Luckey said.
Joshua is a 17-year-old high school senior who plans to attend college to study criminal justice. Before his brother died, he, too, had been mulling a military career.
But now, Pat Luckey said, he wants him to remain a civilian.
“I would not be happy if he went,” Luckey said.
Joshua said he will listen.
“I don’t want to freak my parents out,” he said. “I think I’ll respect their wishes and not go.”
No arrangement have been made for Bryan Luckey’s funeral, but the family said the public will be invited.