4 The Fallen Honors Two Phoenix Veterans
4 The Fallen is honored to have publicly recognized Army Staff Sergeant Keilor Gonzalez and Marine Corps Veteran Corporal Nels Cooper Brannan during the Military Appreciation Night at the San Diego Padres vs Seattle Mariners baseball game.
Marine Corps Veteran, Corporal Nels Cooper Brannan
Nels Cooper Brannan was born in Houston, Texas, and was raised in Gilbert, Arizona where he graduated from Highland High School in 2003. He was a 3 year letter man for football and baseball. Shortly after high school, he joined the Marine Corps as an Infantryman and graduated as the Platoon Honor-Man after Basic Training. His first duty assignment was in Twenty-nine Palms, California. Shortly after arriving to Twenty-nine Palms, he deployed to Iraq for an eight month rotation. Eleven months after returning from his first tour to Iraq, he deployed with his unit to Fallujah, Iraq, for a second tour. While deployed in Iraq, Corporal Brannan had a grenade explode while still in his hand resulting in his left hand being partially amputated.
Corporal Brannan earned the Combat Action Ribbon, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, The National Defense Service Medal, and the Certificate of Commendation.
After returning from deployment, Corporal Brannan underwent numerous follow-up surgical procedures as well as going through physical therapy. During this time, he worked on rekindling his passion for baseball although he would play catch with fellow marines while he was deployed. He participated with the U.S. Military All Stars Baseball Team during his recovery period and was recommended by Baseball Amateur Scout Brendan Hause to be signed by the San Diego Padres. Once his military discharged paperwork was finalized, he officially signed a professional baseball contract with the San Diego Padres.
After several years of pitching in professional baseball, Cooper decided to pursue becoming a Pharmacist which he is on his way to completing. Cooper currently lives here in the Valley with his wife Lindsay, two daughters Brooke and Tenley and their two sons Brody and Talan.
Army Staff Sergeant Keilor Gonzalez
Keilor Gonzalez grew up in Union, New Jersey, and enlisted into the United States Army in Orlando, Florida, in 2003 as an Army Engineer. During his 14 years of service he has been assigned to the 1st Armored Division in Germany, the 101st Airborne Division in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and the 555th Engineer Brigade in Fort Carson, Colorado. SFC Gonzalez has twice deployed to Iraq and once to Afghanistan where he sustained injuries while conducting military operations. He has earned the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, Iraqi Campaign Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Presidential Unit Citation, Meritorious Unit Citation, the Bronze Star Medal, and is currently pending the Purple Heart for injuries sustained while deployed in Afghanistan.
On July 8, 2012, while in Afghanistan, SFC Gonzalez was serving as the lead vehicle commander for a Route Clearance Package for an infantry platoon trying to reach a hostile village. They were trying to locate an alternate route to the hostile village and while he was surveying the area they received indirect fire by way of mortar rounds. SFC Gonzalez sustained injuries during this attack and continued with the mission until it was complete. There were numerous injuries to the Army personnel which required to be medically evacuated so he stayed on course with the mission as one of the only leaders that were able to complete the mission.
SFC Gonzalez continues to serve in the United States Army and is currently stationed at Fort Drum in New York.