During his days at San Marino High School, he was knownsimply as ‘Brandon,’ or at most ‘defensive specialist,’ when he frequently tookto the volleyball court.
Eleven years later, the 2000 grad goes by Captain BrandonIriye, Deputy Regimental Judge Advocate, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment,currently deployed to Contingency Operating Station Kalsu, Babil Province,Iraq, in support of Operation New Dawn 2010-11.
The long journey which brings Brandon back to the pages ofhis local community newspaper began through UC Irvine, where he earned aBachelor of Arts degree in Criminology and Economics; to Whittier Law School inCosta Mesa, where he added a JD to his credentials and then into the JAG Corps.
The road has taken some strange turns, particularly whenIriye tried to get into West Point.
“During the application process, I realized I was red/greencolor blind and did not medically qualify for the academy,” Iriye said. “Ithought my military career was over until I began interviewing with the variousservices’ JAG Corps and found that color blindness did not prevent acceptance.Between the Navy, Marine, and Army JAG Corps, I chose the Army because I knew ifI wanted to hit the legal ground running, the Army and it’s global operationswould provide the best opportunities. In my 4-plus years, I have already hadthe pleasure of assisting individual soldiers with legal issues, prosecutingmore than felony courts-martial from rape to manslaughter, and authorizingkinetic strikes against insurgents with munitions from a 30mm cannon to 500 lb.bombs. It has been a legal experience unlike any other.”
He has been recognized in kind. Iriye has received theBronze Star for service during Operation New Dawn, the Army Commendation Medalfor 100% conviction rate while serving as the 3d ACR Trial Counsel – prosecutor– at Fort Hood, Texas and the Army Achievement Medal for successfullyconvicting several insurgents in the provincial Iraqi Court for planting anexplosively formed penetrator against U.S. forces, the first time in thehistory of Operation Iraqi Freedom or Operation New Dawn such a prosecution hastaken place at the provincial level.
How possibly did he go from the grass volleyball courts atLacy Park to the courts of law in the most dangerous corners of the world?
“I have always been fond of what the services represented,”Iriye told The Tribune. “Duty, honor, and selfless sacrifice were a veryforeign concept to my civilian life growing up in San Marino. I wanted toexperience the history and pride of serving with an Army at war. Maybe Iwatched too many movies as a kid but I always though the officer’s uniform isthe modern day knight’s armor.”
Former volleyball coach – and founder of the program – ScottCameron remembers Brandon well.
“Brandon was like the glue of that team,” Cameron said ofthe remarkable 2000 Titans, who made it all the way to the CIF finals beforelosing an epic, five-game match in packed Dingus Memorial Fieldhouse tobig-gunned Dos Pueblos. “Brandon was always there, he always got the teamtogether to play. The other kids really enjoyed playing with him. A lot oftimes, the stars are lone wolves and you need some guys who are the glue. Brandonwas one of those guys. He was always positive and made sure everyone was on thesame page. He also liked to laugh and have a lot of fun. It was always a goodtime when Brandon was around.”
The feeling is apparently mutual.
“My fondest memory of San Marino will always be of playingvolleyball and my teammates from 6th-12th grade,” Iriye said. “In fact, I stillplay in Iraq to this day, although I have significantly gotten worse. The classof 2000 had such amazing female and male volleyball players, it was always hardto keep up with them. We played practically year round at Lacy Park, SMHS,Huntington, UCLA – really anywhere that had a court and preferably some lights.Those really were the best days of San Marino.”
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