Brothers Forever: The Enduring Bond Between a Marine and a Navy SEAL That Transcended Their Ultimate Sacrifice

Image of Brothers Forever: The Enduring Bond between a Marine and a Navy SEAL that Transcended Their Ultimate Sacrifice
Release Date: 
May 13, 2014
Da Capo Press
Reviewed by: 

“should be required reading and is highly recommended . . .”

Those who have experienced combat certainly understand the bond that exists between brothers in arms. With no sense of the big picture, one fights only for the man next to you and not for some cause, ideal, policy, or political objective.

Although the subjects of this volume never served together in combat, they nevertheless cemented that bond during the course of their short lives, demonstrating to the rest of us the definition of duty, service, patriotism, and sacrifice.

Travis Manion and Brendan Looney were as stunned as the rest of the nation at the horrific events of 9 September 2001. Inasmuch as they were already attending the Naval Academy, they realized that the country was at war, and they would now be required to lead others into combat against an enemy which obviously did not and would not play by the rules of conventional warfare. These two friends and roommates would more than do their part to protect our country, freedoms, and way of life.

Manion, the son of the co-author, followed in his father’s footsteps and was commissioned into the United States Marine Corps. He was eventually sent to Iraq where his personal actions not only were in keeping with the highest traditions of the naval service but also effective in winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. During the course of his many combat patrols, he was a leader whose overriding concern for the welfare of his men would ultimately lead to his death in combat.

It was on one such patrol, in 2007, that Manion was killed by an insurgent sniper in the city of Fallujah, at the time one of the most dangerous cities in the world, while in the process of covering his fellow Marines. His family and best friend were obviously devastated, and he was initially buried near his family’s home outside of Philadelphia.

Brendan Looney kept in contact with the Manion family, was accepted for the intensive SEAL training program, graduated, and served in Afghanistan, fighting the Taliban. He, like Manion, developed that same bond so unique to brothers in arms. Prior to his second deployment, he married the woman he had met and dated while attending the Naval Academy. Sadly, he was killed in a helicopter crash in 2010 while on a combat operation, again devastating both his family and the Manions.

Following Looney’s death, the Manions decided to re-inter their son’s remains in Section 60, resting place of so many of those killed in our most recent wars, at Arlington National Cemetery so that the two best friends, “brothers forever,” would rest side by side in perpetuity. On the occasion of Memorial Day, in 2011, their mutual sacrifice was noted by President Obama during his address at the cemetery.

This short, straightforward summary was intended to be just that. Truth be told, there is a lot more to this story. It is as much a dual biography of these two modern day American warriors as it is an account of their friendship and brotherhood, service, sacrifice, and tragic and untimely deaths in combat at a young age. One enduring legacy of these men is the Travis Manion Foundation which serves to provide support to military families, particularly those of the Gold Star variety who have lost loved ones while in service.

This is a well written account yet, at the same time, be forewarned, also an emotional, compelling, evocative story of the lives of two men who represent America’s best. As well, it serves as an object lesson for those of us at home who pray for those who willingly put themselves in harm’s way for our protection, safety, and well-being in an increasingly dangerous world.

As this is not a standard publication of military history, nor is this criticism as a result, expect only minimal notes for each chapter. There is an index and two sections of photographs, complementing the text, depicting the lives, families, and service of both men at home and in their theaters of combat operations.

There is nothing more that needs to be said. This volume should be required reading and is highly recommended for everyone in order to truly understand the mantra of contemporary warriors: “If not me, then who . . .”