Brothers Forever Exclusive Excerpt

The book, written by Col. Tom Manion and The Stream's Tom Sileo, is out today in paperback.

By The Editors Published on April 14, 2015

Brothers Forever, which is now available in paperback, tells the incredible true story of U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Travis Manion, U.S. Navy LT (SEAL) Brendan Looney and this entire generation of post-9/11 warriors. As The Stream’s Tom Sileo noted at The Army and Navy Club last week, the book he co-wrote with 1st Lt. Manion’s father also focuses on the enormous sacrifices made by America’s military families, including the Manions and Looneys.

First Lt. Travis Manion was shot and killed by an enemy sniper as Travis helped rescue his wounded comrades. Travis was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star with Valor. In this exclusive excerpt from Brothers Forever, Travis’s parents grieve for their deceased son as they attend the wedding of Travis’s close friend, Navy SEAL Brendan Looney.

From Chapter 10

.. the night was foggy for the Manions, who were still in shock from losing their only son. As the wedding festivities kicked off, they felt as though they were looking into the church from the nightmare they had been living outside its walls.

With the Manions and about 250 other guests watching, a nervous Navy SEAL waited at the altar. Beads of sweat formed on Brendan’s forehead as the tall, bulky, brown-haired groom stood in his black, gold-trimmed US Navy “mess dress” uniform. Awaiting Amy’s grand entrance in her gorgeous ivory gown was even more anxiety invoking than a lengthy room inspection at the Naval Academy or BUD/S training.

There was no clock in the church, but Brendan may have still been able to hear one ticking. In forty-eight hours the Navy SEAL would deploy to Iraq, where Travis had been killed just fourteen months before.

If he looked to his left, Brendan would think of his dear friend, who would certainly have stood up in the wedding if he had made it back from Iraq alive. Brendan had already told Amy that he couldn’t handle seeing an empty spot for his departed groomsman next to the altar and his two younger brothers, “best men” Steve and Billy. He also didn’t want to risk upsetting Amy, who was also mourning Travis.

To the Manions and virtually everyone else, Amy appeared calm and composed as she glided toward the altar and the man she was so excited to be marrying. As Father Damian started the Mass, Amy whispered her love in Brendan’s ear.

Brothers Forever paperback coverAs they held hands, Amy saw the bracelet bearing Travis’s name, which Brendan hadn’t taken off since it was given to him by Travis’s mom in October 2007.

There were some lighthearted moments as the priest told stories of Brendan harmlessly misbehaving in high school. While pointing out the beauty of the bride, he also recounted a conversation he’d had with Brendan after being introduced to Amy.

“It was a pleasure meeting your fiancée,” had said Father Damian, who once taught Brendan, his brothers, their father, and several uncles and cousins at DeMatha Catholic High School. “But I’m wondering how a guy like you got so lucky?”

Everyone laughed, including the Manions, who had barely managed a chuckle in fourteen months.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Brendan Looney,” the priest said.

Brendan looked into Amy’s big brown eyes, which he had admired since the day they met, and kissed his bride as applause echoed through the church.

While clapping, Janet’s tear-filled eyes met her much taller husband’s. The Manions would never be able to see their only son get married, but they were thrilled to witness Travis’s close friend experiencing such a special moment.

After pictures had been snapped and hugs exchanged with Brendan’s parents, Kevin and Maureen, the Manions weren’t sure what to do next. They had managed to avoid stopping at their second home just outside the Naval Academy gates before the wedding. The house had so many memories, and they weren’t sure if they wanted to go inside to spend the couple of hours before the reception started at a nearby hotel. Travis, along with Brendan and many other buddies, had spent countless weekends at the house. Janet hadn’t been inside since her son was killed.

Tom, who had been back a few times, thought visiting the house would be a big step and gently encouraged his wife to take it. Still, Janet was trembling as they sat in their parked car in front of the bed and breakfast next door. Through the sunlight she could still see Travis sitting on the back porch with his group of friends, which often included Brendan. He was just here.

Janet stayed in the car, nervously straightening her short, dark hair, while Tom opened the front gate and then the wooden, creaking “front” door, which was on the right side of the house. As Tom gently waved her inside, his wife took a deep breath and said the same quick prayer she had recited after Travis died: “Lord, help me to remember that nothing is going to happen today that you and I together can’t handle.”

Even though Travis had been killed thousands of miles away, going inside the house felt like returning to the scene of a horrible accident. Janet struggled to breathe at first, but was determined to get through it as Tom put his arm around her. She looked right toward the kitchen, where Travis used to sit and play cards. She looked left toward the living room, where he had watched football games with his dad.

Travis’s mother then walked upstairs, where she saw a small pile of clothes.

She collapsed.

Brothers Forever is available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and bookstores everywhere.

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