As the van pulled up in Brian Harper’s driveway on Oct. 13, 2011, and two Marines, in dress blue uniforms, emerged and walked slowly toward his front door, Harper knew his son, Marine Lance Cpl. Scott “Boots” Harper, who was serving his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, has been killed in action.
“Just five days before they arrived, I was watching a movie on television which showed, in one scene, two military officers solemnly approaching the main character’s door to deliver the news that his son been killed in action in wartime,” he said.
Harper was told that Scott had been killed just hours before in an ambush as he rushed to the aid of his squad leader who was wounded during the firefight.
Harper learned later that his son was hit three times by enemy bullets as he knelt down to aid his fellow brother in arms.
“I was assured by a buddy of Scott’s, who was also involved in the firefight, that Scott was killed almost instantly and did not suffer, which is a blessing,” Harper said.
His son’s body was flown to Dover Air Force Base later that week where the father was waiting.
“I was flown to Dover and was allowed to accompany Scott’s body home on a private jet which landed at Charlie Brown Airport,” the father said.
There he was met by a contingent of more than 300 waiting to reverently welcome Scott home.
“I really appreciate the outpouring of people along the route to the funeral home as there must have been 30,000 waving American flags, saluting and reverently cheering Scott as we brought him home,” Harper said.
Before his son joined the military, Harper said he, like so many other Americans, saw Veterans Day as, “just another day for me.”
Now, it is not only important to him but is a day to remember Scott and his sacrifice for his country.
“This is especially true for military families who sacrifice so much, with some even losing a family member, to secure the freedoms which, unfortunately, too many of our fellow Americans take for granted,” Harper said.
Scott is buried at the church he grew up in, Ephesus Baptist Church, and his grave is marked by a large Marine flag and a grave marker with a photo of Scott playing his guitar.