Ventura man plans veteran reunion

(Above) Brandon Berhow-Goll took this photo on April 5, 2005, of the four soldiers that were killed the following day on April 6, 2005.  Pictured (L-R): is Matthew Serio, Christopher Ramos, Shane Goldman and Jesse Thiry. These men gave the ultimate sacrifice the evening they were ambushed in Zadon, Iraq while on a counter mortar patrol.  -Submitted photo

by Michelle Watson

Brandon Berhow-Goll, of Ventura, is planning a reunion to honor those he served with in Charlie Company 1st Battalion 5th Marines and to also honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.  Berhow-Goll is looking for help to cover the costs of this event.

The event, which will take place on Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Orleans Hotel Ballroom, in Las Vegas, Nev., is an opportunity to provide a safe and uplifting atmosphere for Veterans and their families to come together, reunite and share their lives.

“Many of these vets and their families have been through a lot and being able to come together boosts their mental health significantly,” said Berhow-Goll.  “A lot of us suffer from physical and mental health issues from our time serving and coming together gives us a chance to heal some of the emotional scars.”

Berhow-Goll was a young man who had graduated from Ventura High School in 2001, when he joined the Marine Corps. at the age of 18.  He served in Iraq for two tours.

On his second tour, he was squad leader for the 3rd Battalion, which took him from Kuwait to Abu Ghraib prison.  Despite taking a lot of mortar fire, the group took control of the prison.  While there, they did a lot of counter mortar patrols.  On April 5, 2004, the group started to receive RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) fire at the prison.  Since they were the reactionary squad, they went back to the town of Khan Dhari.  There, they cleared three city blocks, but couldn’t find where the RPG fire came from.  They went back to the base where the squad discussed its options; they could stay and rest, or head back out to do more counter-mortar patrols.  The squad voted to get back to work.

The squad left and headed southwest of Abu Ghraib Prison to the town of Zaidan.  Berhow-Goll was in the lead of a three vehicle convoy when they came upon a fork in the road.  Along the road was a pile of brick that raised his suspicions.  He told his driver to punch it.

“The explosion came from the side and took us out.  I took shrapnel,” said Berhow-Goll.

They were in an ambush zone alone and were taking on machine gun fire.  Berhow-Goll also discovered that four Marines in the back of the vehicle did not make it.  Only he and the driver had survived.

“We want to honor the four men that died and the many other Marines that died during these four tours,” said Berhow-Goll. 

Berhow-Goll was badly injured in the attack and was medevacked out by helicopter to Baghdad.  “I had surguries in Germany and then was sent to Walter Reed Hospital in San Diego, Calif. for recovery and more therapy.”  

He was shipped home a month and one-half after being injured.

“I feel that planning this reunion is a great opportunity for us veterans to get together, to heal and to share stories,” he said. 

Berhow-Goll said he is expecting 150-200 people from all over the country to attend the reunion.  He said he is really hoping to meet the families of the four men that died on that fateful April day.

Berhow-Goll is hoping to raise $11,000 to cover the cost of the facility fee, the dinner, the Fallen Men table, sound equipment and a slideshow screen.  Any money extra money will be donated to The Semper Fi Fund, which is dedicated to providing immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to combat wounded, critically ill and catastrophically injured veterans.  A Gofund Me page has been established under Charlie Co 1 B 5th M Combat Vet Reunion and it will be open until July 15. For more information, or to donate, Berhow-Goll can be reached at 515-419-6117. 

“Most of the veterans in this group have not seen each other since they served this country close to 20 years ago,” said Berhow-Goll.  “Your donation would allow these Marines and their families an opportunity to reunite and continue to grow stronger together.”

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