By Tom Davidson
MERCER COUNTY — “Let me tell you a beautiful story,” the National Guard chaplain’s voice echoed through the cavernous church Saturday.
The setting was an elementary school gymnasium on Veterans Day. Most of the students were sitting on the floor, fidgeting. The only ones who weren’t were confined to wheelchairs.
“You have to be very brave to be in the Army,” the principal told the students as she introduced the guest of honor, Sgt. 1st Class Daniel Anthony Brozovich.
Brozovich walked from the stage to one of the boys in a wheelchair.
“I’m not so brave,” he told the students.
“(He) is really brave,” he said of the boy in the wheelchair.
The boy beamed.
The students were captivated.
“Dan then told them why he loved serving his country,” Lt. Col. Doug Etter said in eulogizing his fallen comrade.
Brozovich was a man with a twinkle in his eye and devilish grin on his face, Etter said.
He was killed Oct. 18 in Ashraf, Iraq. He was 42.
A Greenville resident who grew up in the Pittsburgh area, Brozovich worked at the State Correctional Facility in Findley Township and formerly worked at the Werner Co. in Sugar Grove Township.
Brozovich was attached to the 107th Field Artillery Battalion in New Castle. This was his second tour of duty in Iraq.
North Sprague Avenue in the Pittsburgh suburb of Bellevue was lined with people waving flags Saturday. The rain and cold wind seemed to stop for a moment before noon and the sun briefly made an appearance as the coffin holding Brozovich was carried into the Church of the Assumption.
The sounds of “Amazing Grace” filled the church as mourners filled the pews.
Brozovich was killed in the name of freedom, the Rev. Dennis Buranosky said in his homily.
He died so that people can be free to worship and free to protest, Buranosky said.
Brozovich lived a life of integrity and was devoted to his family and his country, he said.
“Are you a person that will lay down your life for a friend? A person that gives and doesn’t count the cost?” Buranosky asked the mourners.
“We’re called to continue the wisdom and courage that he witnessed in his life.”
Brozovich had an innate ability to touch people’s lives, Etter said.
“He had a way about him that was all his own,” he said.
He crushed the potato chips he packed in his lunch “because he could fit more in,” Etter said.
He liked ranch dressing and kept “perfect piles of stuff” everywhere,” Etter said.
“I suspect that some people were jealous or envious of Dan,” Etter said. “He had his life together.”
His wife Mary June was the “first and only” love of his life and he adored his son and daughter and two grandchildren.
“What a great example and inspiration he was to so many,” Etter said.
Brozovich was the sixth person with Mercer County ties — and the second Greenville man — to be killed in Iraq.
Sgt. Michael A. Marzano, 28, of Greenville was killed May 7, 2005, in Haditha, Iraq; Spc. Douglas E. Kashmer, 27, who had ties to Sharon and the Reynolds area, was killed June 8, 2005, in Nippur, Iraq; Sgt. Shawn A. Graham, 34, grew up in Grove City and lived in Texas, was killed Sept. 25, 2005, in Baghdad; Lt. Col. Michael E. McLaughlin, 44, of East Lackawannock Township was killed Jan. 6 in Ramadi, Iraq; and Staff Sgt. David M. Veverka, 25, of Jamestown was killed May 6, in Diwaniyah, Iraq.