When Northwood parents Brant and Lisa Bugbee learned their son, U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Brandon Bugbee,
was shot in the head in Afghanistan last week, they feared the worst.
“Initially, we’ve been really scared,” Lisa said. “They’ve kept us pretty updated. The hardest thing is you feel like you are waiting and waiting. He went through this whole week by himself, if you know what I mean. He didn’t really have anybody nearby. If your kid stubs his toe, if he breaks a leg, whatever, you want to be there.”
Since then, Mom and Dad have had several conversations with Brandon and are reassured their son is going to be alright.
“It’s getting better every day because we’ve been able to talk to him,” Brant said. “He’s doing better and sounds real good. At first, it was really rough because we didn’t know anything other than he was shot in the head. I think he’s going to be 100 percent.”
Last Wednesday night at BW3 restaurant on Navarre Avenue in Oregon, a fundraiser was held to help Brant and Lisa travel to a military hospital in Washington D.C. to visit their son, who had just arrived in the states hours earlier for treatment and recovery.
Brant and Lisa were to travel to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, and then fly to D.C. on Thursday.
“It’s the most important thing we can do with him not being home. We can’t be there for him and it’s just kind of rough, so we want to get there as soon as we can,” Brant said.
Brandon, a 2009 Northwood High School graduate, joined the Marines with three buddies — Lance Mendoza, Ronnie Koch, and Thomas Lackner. Lance Mendoza’s mother, Susie Mendoza, was one of the organizers of the fundraiser.
“It’s an amazing thing,” Brant said. “Right off the bat, we want to thank Susie Mendoza, Betty Derr, the wrestling community, Becky Hess, Don’t Donut Shop, Big Apple Deli and BW3. The response has been amazing, and since the Marine Corps have been helping us with the flight and where to stay, we’ve decided that anything that we have left over we are going to donate to other organizations that help people out in our situation like we are going through.”
Made a Pact
Becky Hess and Susie Mendoza knew it was important to help Brandon’s parents see him as quickly as possible.
“The boys went into the service together,” Susie Mendoza said. “Brandon was like a son of mine. Brandon and Lance made a pack when they were in third or fourth grade about joining the Marines. Lance went one way, Brandon went another way, and when I got the phone call that he was shot in the head it was like one of my own children being shot.
“At times like this, a family should not have to worry about finances. Just get them there to aid their child helps a lot and to have family close by. All I know is somebody helped us out a few years back and I’m just paying it forward. Anything anybody can do to help out, even with prayers. I’ve got prayers coming from Iraq, from Australia, money has been coming in left and right and it’s just been awesome the way the community has come together for this young man. He’s really a hometown hero,” Susie continued.
“They don’t have time to wait for an answer for anything. Saturday I was talking to Lisa, and as soon as I found out anything, things just didn’t sound good. I started a Facebook fundraiser for him and it just snowballed from that. It’s important for the community and for Marine moms and dads and their families who our children graduated boot camp with. They are supporting him and sending money in. Even his drill instructors have been sending money in and that’s pretty amazing. It really is. A child of mine, I can only imagine — they are young kids.”
Hess added, “We’ve put it out on Facebook, hundreds of texts have gone out, it was on K-100 (radio), Fox News was here tonight, and thousands of people have gotten the information. We’ve gotten money through the mail and we’ve already raised $1,000 for the family, and we just had $150 donated today.”
Hess’ son, Nathan, is in college at the University of Akron and is also one of Brandon’s friends. Susie’s son, Lance Corporal Lance Mendoza, graduated from the Marine Aviation Supply Mechanized Course and is currently serving in Iwo Jima, Japan.
“I know he (Lance) was heartbroken,” Susie said. “He thanked me for putting on a fundraiser for the Bugbees. I’m not doing this for any kind of recognition whatsoever. I just know when you are in a position like this and it is your child it hurts and you do whatever you can. He’s a child of mine.”
Attending the fundraiser were Brandon Bugbee’s grandparents, Bob and Theresa Bugbee. Bob is a U.S. Army veteran who sees the importance of getting his son, Brant, to visit their grandson.
“They wanted to go as quick as possible, I know that. They just want to see him. That’s what they want and the sooner it is the better it will be,” Grandpa said.
Grandma added, “This is very important to getting my family over there — my son and daughter-in-law. They are a very, very close family and they need to reunite if at all possible. Brandon is the best kind of grandson anyone could ask for. He’s my No. 1 grandson and my first grandson born. He’s everything to us. We want to see him.”
Another family friend, Deanne Asche, helped get the word out about the fundraising efforts.
“The family was always very good to me,” Deanne said. “It’s very important to help the family out. We can’t do enough to help our military and their parents. It’s an honor to have anyone in the military from their family, and to give up family members in the military as well. The parents are just as much hurting as he is.”
For those who could not attend the fundraiser, there is a drop box at Don’s Donut Shop, funds can be donated at the Northwood VFW, Susie Mendoza has set up a co-pay account, and checks can be written to Lisa Bugbee directly, Becky Hess said.
Brant Bugbee recommends supporting organizations that have helped families in similar situations.
“I would suggest like looking into the Wounded Warrior program, or the Red Cross, Wishes for our Heroes, or the local VFWs. There have been so many people that have been willing to help and offering help and anybody that wants to contribute, we suggest giving to one of them because they are great organizations and they have been there for us,” Brant said.