Corporal “Bert” “Ships Out” Again

"Bert" and Lacey in People Magazine

You’ve become acquainted with Corporal Brett Sanders, a longtime family friend and former neighbor, through a post about his coming of age, in which I share how the first hints of his maturation became evident. I’m still in touch with Brett, (we know him as “Bert,” a nickname my mother-in-law coined when she failed to recall his given name) though lately, mostly through facebook or an occasional surprise phone call, which I relish.

Recently, Bert’s public image has cast a much wider net as he graced the pages of People magazine in a touching photo with his fiance’, Lacey (above) as he “ships out” for another tour in Afghanistan.    It was a thrill to see him so prominently featured in such a popular publication.

From an early age, Brett wanted to be a soldier. He had pictures of military aircraft in his room, loved air shows and always spent time with Marines at their Ohio State Fair booth, enthusiastically doing pull or push ups trying to win a T-Shirt. His favorite game at the fair was the Shooting Gallery, which even though I told him his chances of winning were small, he always tried.

Bert can get along with anyone. His easy manner and quick smile are endearing. I truly miss having him live across the street and look forward to hearing from him, as does my entire family.  At most every phase of my boy’s early development, Bert was there to share, reflect and participate. He’s central to many happy stories and for my sons, lifelong memories.   Brett will always hold a special place in our hearts.

As you embark on yet another of your life’s excursions, we wish you well, my friend.   May your load be bearable, your task tolerable and your safe return swift.  You and Lacey are in our thoughts ans prayers.

As you look up at the nighttime sky, revisit the glow-in-the-dark stars that still stick to the ceiling in what once was Ben and Steve’s room, where you all used to wrestle and play and recall the peace of a far less complicated time.  We love you, buddy.  Be well.

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10 Responses to Corporal “Bert” “Ships Out” Again

  1. Pingback: The Super Bowl, Confidence and the Hooters Girl « New World Odor

  2. Lacey Jewell says:

    Thank you for writing such a nice blog. Thoughts and prayers are most definitely welcomed.

  3. Paul Sonderman says:

    Thanks, Lacey.

    I know it’s hard, but I firmly believe that Brett’s worth it. I watched him grow up and he’s a real special guy. He’s also head over heels over you.
    I pray that this soon will be behind you and together you can enjoy the life you deserve.


  4. I found your site when I was searching for something entirely different, but this post was on the first page of Google your website must be amazingly popular! Continue the good work!

  5. Paul Sonderman says:

    Cool. Thanks. Come back!

  6. Mike Sanders says:

    Paul, I was sitting in my family room with Morgan, and my four month old granddaughter, Lucy, when we came across your blog while searching for info on Brett in Afghanistan. I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed reading the nice memories of Brett you are sharing with your readers. Brett thinks very highly of you, too, and some of my favorite memories of life in the old neighborhood go back to the annual fireworks display hosted in your driveway. I also recall the trip we took to see the air show in Dayton. Where did time go; I sometimes look at my Marine, and still see that little boy shagging fly balls in the back yard.

    I hope things are well with you and the family. I know Brett stays in touch with Steve, and saw him a few times at OU. Now that you have my email, shoot me a note to let me know how things are going.


  7. Paul Sonderman says:

    So nice to hear from you, Mike. Good to reminisce with a fellow fireworks survivor! I’ll never forget the air show–I got badly sunburned. It was SO hot. I remember the kids gawking at the ladies, many of whom were dressed for the weather. The Harrier was awesome. As much fun as it was at the time, we seldom realize how amazing days like that are until years later.

    Watching the kids grow up was truly enriching. We miss Brett every day and pray for him even more frequently. I’ve had some great visits with him, too. Last time I saw him, we went to Thrurman’s, in German Village. So cool to interact with the kids as adults.

    Still no grand kids yet, but getting closer. Ben got married last year. Steve’s living here as he student teaches and We’re enjoying that. He’s always had such great friends and we have fun when they stop by.

    Thanks for commenting and I will email you. You made my day.


  8. Morgan Brodeur says:

    Hey, Paul! This is Morgan, Brett’s sister. I just sent you a message regarding Brett to your Facebook inbox- Brett would really love to speak to you when you get a chance, but the number he has isn’t good.

  9. Paul Sonderman says:

    Hi, Morgan,

    I tried it as soon as I got your message. I’ll call Melissa to see if she has a better number. I’m praying for Brett.


  10. Paul Sonderman says:

    I just talked to him. It was so good to hear his voice. He was tired but in good spirits. Thanks so much for the news and please keep us apprised. I’ll be posting here soon.

    God bless,


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