I met Brad on a blind date. It was kind of a miracle that we even met. He was living in Idaho stationed at Mountain Home Air Force Base flying Eagles (F-15C) I was teaching second grade in Ogden Utah and raising my beautiful daughter Ty.
He took me flying that night. He made me laugh and he listened. We hung out and talked in my car after the date for a few hours. (we really were just talking people, get your minds out of the gutter;) He told me about his job (that he loved) and his family (that he loved more) and what he wanted out of life. And the thing that impressed me most about him was that he listened to me. He wanted to know all about Ty and teaching and my family. He wanted to know about things that actually matter. And just by talking to him I realized the other thing that I loved most about him. That he was good. He knew what he believed and what kind of person he wanted to be. He wasn’t overbearing, but he didn’t apologize for wanting to live the way he did.
Brad had wanted to fly pretty much since he could say the word Jet. His dad was a pilot in the Air Force. He grew up watching planes take off and he always knew he wanted to fly something with a pointy nose. When we met he was well into his prestigious career.
Brad graduated from high school in Del Rio, Texas and received his BS and Masters Degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He served an LDS mission to Billings Montana. He commissioned as an officer into the Air Force in 1998. Brad was named the distinguished graduate of his pilot training, and achieved the Top Gun award in his fighter training.
Brad was a proud “Eagle Driver” and flew the F-15C for most of his Air Force career. He had over 1000 hours in the Eagle including over 80 hours of combat time over Iraq. Brad logged 1,689 hours of total flying time.
Brad was selected and had been serving as a member of the Air Force One support team as a Presidential Advance Agent where he was responsible for worldwide deployment of Air Force One and Air Force Two. He was chosen to attend Advanced Officer School.
His Wing Commander, Col. Peterson said, “Major Funk was an exceptional leader who exemplified the Air Force’s core values of integrity, service, and excellence. It was my privilege to work closely with him. He was the perfect example of what it means to be an officer and a gentleman.”
After Brad died I found a big box of awards in the back of our closet. I had never even seen most of them. It made me giggle that they were shoved to the back of the closet – because it’s very un-fighter pilot like 😉 But he was kind of an enigma. He loved his job. He was passionate about it and very good at it. But he knew that what was the most important was what he was coming home too. He could also whip up a gourmet meal better then most chef’s, sing falsetto to pretty much any classical piece of music and retained the title of my “Official Crafting Partner”.
He was an amazing husband, father and best friend. He was an honorable priesthood holder and disciple of Christ. Never have I been so comfortable, content and happy with another human being in my life. The only way I can describe it is saying it’s like coming home. Everyone should know that feeling. It’s like you are empowered beyond anything you could ever be on your own. Sometimes, when I get discouraged because this life seems so long and hard without him I have to remind myself….Do you know how many people dream of finding their soulmate and having a family with him and loving every minute of every day they got to spend with him? I had that. I HAVE that. I’m good. And I’m so grateful for the time we did have here.
When were were married Brad gave me the gift of being the most amazing father to Tyler. He loved her like she was his own. He spent time with her and made her a priority. He taught her and played with her and talked to her about life and what kind of person she wanted to become. He told her to go for it – and that she could do anything.
Sophie was 2 1/2 when she lost her daddy. She was the ultimate daddy’s girl. If he were home, she insisted that he do everything for her – feed her, bathe her, put her to bed. It was so cute and even after a long day at work when he just wanted to sit for one minute – she just had to say – “daddy do it” and he would jump up and be her knight in shining armor. She still talks about him and how much she loves him and how much she misses him. I think this is a miracle in it’s own right – because she was so little, just starting to talk, when he died.
Addie was 6 months old. When she was a baby everyone would call her “Brad with a bow”. She is still a spitting image of her daddy. I LOVE it. I am so glad I still get to see his smile. She is also a little spit-fire like he was and is the family comedian and we all know just where she gets it from.
Brad is our hero and continues to be an inspiration in our lives.
We miss him every minute but know he is not far away.
I love you my boy. You are our Hero. Not just because you gave your life for our country, but more for the way you chose to LIVE your life everyday. Thank you for doing heroic things everyday – even if it was just acting like you were thrilled to have spoonfuls of peanut butter for dinner because for whatever reason your wife hadn’t gotten around to making dinner. – Thank you for lighting up every time you walked through the door, playing chase with Sophie; kissing me like you hadn’t seen me in weeks and when asked how your day was replying – “much better now”.
Thank you for being you.
We love you.
You took me flying that first night. And have been teaching me to fly since.