BOISE, Idaho -- Even among Marines, Cpl. Brett Sayre stands out.
Physically imposing, he towers at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds — with what his mother describes as a “perfect smile.”
About a year before his unit’s 2010 deployment, Cpl. Jacob Leicht joined Sayre’s battalion. Leicht was also tall and had a similar background in small-town Texas. Both had new wives, tattoos and a love for big trucks.
“I saw myself in him,” Sayre said.
The two men became nearly “instant” friends, Sayre said.
“I would consider him my best friend,” Sayre said. “We had more in common than anybody I had come in contact with over the years. Music, tattoos, motorcycles. It almost seemed like he was my brother.”
But on May 27, the two men were separated by 12 inches and an insurgent’s bomb — and that made the difference between life and death. Leicht was the 1,000th American casualty in Afghanistan. Sayre survived his injuries.
Sayre’s rescue and the retrieval of Leicht’s body was chronicled by New York Times photographs and videos. Around the country, national television networks, The Associated Press and newspapers from Cleveland to San Antonio to Detroit told the story of this grim milestone in the war in Afghanistan.
Sayre’s father, Chip Sayre, laments that foot of space, regretting a coveted moment he was robbed of. He’d longed for a sunny day on his Kuna porch with beers and cigars and war stories with his son and his son’s best friend.
Chip Sayre says the story of this day and these Marines goes beyond sad labels and shocking photographs and Purple Hearts. It centers on friendship, honor and connection.
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