National Guard Sgt. from Bay City to be laid to rest - WNEM TV 5

National Guard Sgt. from Bay City to be laid to rest

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LANSING, MI (WNEM) -

Gov. Rick Snyder ordered U.S. and Michigan flags to be lowered to half-staff on Friday on all state buildings within the state Capitol complex.

It was in honor of Brandon Cavanaugh, of Bay City.

Cavanaugh was a sergeant in the Michigan National Guard. He died on April 13. He was rushed to the emergency room for an unknown cause and ultimately lost his life.

“Brandon will be remembered for his commitment and service to his country and I send my deepest condolences to his family, friends and community during this difficult time,” Snyder said.

Cavanaugh served two tours in Iraq in 2006 and 2008 with the U.S. Marine Corps.

A service will be held in his honor at 9 a.m. on April 22 at the Corpus Christi Parish, 1008 S. Wenona St. in Bay City.

Snyder urged Michigan residents, businesses, schools, local governments and other organizations to display their flag at half-staff on Friday as well.

"To me, he was the greatest example there could be. There was no one else I wanted to be more," said Brandy Cavanaugh, Brandon's daughter.

At just 8-years-old Brandy was faced with the unimaginable, going through life without her father by her side. But it's in her strength and her passion that prove her father left a lasting mark.

"I want people to be inspired by him, all the things he's done for the world," Brandy said.

Brandon Cavanaugh's military career began after one of the country's darkest days.

"He had a great need to serve, especially after 9/11. He and his twin brother were geared up to join and fight for our country," his wife Amy Cavanaugh said.

Brandon graduated from Vassar High School and found his calling with the Marines. He served two tours of duty in Iraq where he fought on the front lines in the most dangerous regions. When he came home he and his wife Amy started a family.

"He was an awesome father, awesome to my family and his. I couldn't have been more blessed," Amy said.

Together they had two girls - Brandy and her 4-year-old sister Abry.

However, Brandon still wanted to serve. So he joined the National Guard and was in training to become an officer. It was during that training he collapsed. His cause of death has yet to be determined.

"He was my best friend and it's just going to be hard living life without him. I can't imagine every trying to find somebody as wonderful as him," Amy said.

On Friday flags across the state were flown at half-staff to honor Brandon and his service to his country.

But it's what he did in his role as a father that Brandy said she will take with her for the rest of her life.

"It's hard for me. It's very hard for me, but I have to stay strong. I have to live through it and I have to live the way he wanted me to live," Brandy said.

A GoFundMe page was set up as a memorial fund. More than $25,000 has since been donated.

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