Soldier Salutes His 'Guardian Angel'

The Early Show: soldier's eulogy
CBS
While Spec. Brandon Bean was at war in Iraq, the grandmother who helped to rear him lost her own battle with cancer.

Bean found out about the death when CBS Correspondent Phil Ittner gave his cell phone to the specialist in the 3rd Mechanized Infantry Division. Correspondents with the troops in Iraq and Kuwait have been loaning their cell phones to soldiers to allow as many as possible to phone home.

"He was pretty shook up when he realized he wasn't going to be able to come home and that he wasn't going to be able to say his last goodbyes," Bean's wife, Trina, says.

Back in Ohio, the Bean family did everything it could to get him home from the war for his grandmother's funeral.

Bean's mother, Stefanie Vath, says they even appealed to the Red Cross and Congress. "There was no guarantees as long as bullets were flying that they could get him back," she says.

The army couldn't send him home, but CBS was able to send his thoughts home via satellite. Bean delivered the eulogy at Myrna Bean's funeral.

"I want to thank each and every one of you for coming out today to honor such a noble woman," he tells mourners in his taped satellite message.

"As I'm over here in a foreign country, I know as I fly in combat over Iraq, that I have a guardian angel flying with me, sitting on my shoulder," Spec. Bean says.

Trina Bean says his grandmother would have wanted him at her funeral, "but since he couldn't be here, that's the second best thing, that videotape."

For Spec. Bean, it's not enough.

"Allowing me to send the video eulogy - that's a big help, but I still will never completely be able to grieve in an environment like this," he says of the Iraqi desert in wartime.

"He's on his way to Baghdad right now," says his wife. "He will be on the front lines. They're going to be right there to provide support for all the troops."

But now his family takes comfort in his words for the woman they say taught him to respect and value life.

Spec. Bean closes his videotape by saying, "I love each and every one of you and I hope to make it home soon. Fly high, Grandmother, for one day we will fly together."

His wife, Trina, says his family is waiting for his return. "I love him very much," she said. "Me and our daughter Winter love him very much and we can't wait for him to come home."

Until then, images of his wife and daughter and his guardian angel watch over him as he watches over Iraq.