Bryan Christopher Black, 35, was born Aug. 3, 1982 at Camp Pendleton, Calif.; he passed away Oct. 4, 2017, in Niger, Africa. Bryan was stationed at Ft. Bragg, N.C., with 3rd Group as a Green Beret medic.
Growing up, Bryan was very competitive and strong-willed. He became irritated in the fourth grade when his brother won a trophy at a chess tournament and he didn’t. He turned his frustration into action, spending an entire summer studying and learning chess. Bryan then dominated scholastic chess in Washington state, tied for second in the nation in the sixth grade, and competed well at the adult level.
His competitive and challenging spirit drove later masteries of poker, carpentry, stock trading, martial arts, medicine, and roofing and home repair. During his previous deployment to Niger, he learned the local dialect Hausa because he wanted to be able to communicate directly with the people. He also spoke French and Arabic. Bryan was often in high demand within his team and with locals due to these efforts.
He began wrestling in high school, wrestling in the state championship his senior year, and was his weight class varsity wrestler at Central Washington University. Wrestling revealed one of Bryan’s amazing traits: he never quit. When he began suffering heat injuries during a wrestling camp in high school, he refused to quit until he collapsed from heat stroke. After five days in the hospital, he returned to the wrestling camp and finished the training.
Bryan graduated from Puyallup High School in 2000, at the same time earning his AA from Pierce College. He went on to graduate from Central Washington University with a degree in business administration in 2002.
Upon graduation, from college he went to Mammoth Lakes where he taught skiing and worked in construction in the off-season. This is where he met the love of his life, Michelle Richmond Black. They married in 2005.
Bryan joined the Army in 2009. The Army provided the challenges that Bryan craved throughout basic training, Ranger school, Special Forces, and related specialist courses, while excelling at medical studies during many late nights and weekends. Bryan acted as a natural leader, helping his fellow soldiers where they struggled and maximizing their talents.
Bryan was dedicated to his wife and confidante Michelle, and a loved role model to sons Ezekiel and Isaac. He also leaves behind parents Henry (Hank) Black and Karen Black, his brother Jason Black, grandparents Harold Ericsson and Gerry Ericsson; uncles Bob Ericsson and Batron Black; aunts Christy Hedesa and Bonnie Hernandez; cousins Jason Hedesa, Travis Hedesa, Kim Hernandez, Tammy Hernandez, Cynthia Hernandez, Debbie Hernandez, Connor Ericsson; and other family members.
Bryan’s life — as a son, parent, husband, father, neighbor; as a soldier; and as a Special Forces medical sergeant fighting for his country and comrades — is well described by his Lord Jesus Christ when He said: “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13. Bryan was the staunchest of friends and a true hero. His formidable presence will be sorely missed.
A wake will be held Oct. 17, 2017, from 6 to 9 p.m., at Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home in Fayetteville, N.C. A celebration of his life will be held Oct. 18, 2017, at Northwood Temple Church in Fayetteville, N.C., at 2 p.m. The public is invited. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.
An educational fund is being set up for Isaac and Ezekiel.