The family and friends of Army Sgt. Brian M. Wood knew him as a considerate young man who worried about other people more than himself.
That’s the reason, they say, that Wood had not told most of them about the dangerous nature of his job in Iraq.
“He never told us that he was going to be defusing land mines,” said childhood friend Kevin McDonald, 19. “He didn’t want us worrying.”
Wood, 21, a combat engineer from Torrance, was killed April 16 when his military vehicle struck a land mine in Tikrit. He was a member of the 9th Engineer Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division in Schweinfurt, Germany.
Born in Culver City, Wood was a quiet kid who could be funny while talking to those who knew him well.
He played Little League baseball, was a Cub Scout and, from an early age, loved reading books on history, philosophy and physics, his parents said.
In 2001, Wood graduated from West Torrance High School, where he played trumpet in the marching band.
His friends remember a young man who was kind to everyone and went out of his way to comfort those who were having a rough time in school.
“He would always talk to me and always ask me, ‘What’s wrong?’ and try to cheer me up,” said a friend, Brian Nenno, 20.
Wood’s compassion also showed when Amanda Jane, the cat the family had had since he was 3, was dying of old age. Wood carried her in his arms up the stairs to his bedroom and petted her during her final hours.
“That’s kind of how he was,” said his mother, Patty.
Wood was a good student who could have gone to college, but decided during his sophomore year of high school that he would join the Army after graduation, his family said. He was inspired by his father and three uncles, all military veterans.
“It is a family tradition of serving our country and giving back,” said his father, Greg. “Bryan was a patriot, a very strong lover of his country and what it stood for, and that was one of the things that he felt that he should do.”
Wood did his basic training at Ft. Leonard Wood in Missouri and later was stationed in Germany. When he arrived in Iraq in March, “he expressed how important he thought what he was doing was,” his father said.
When he called home, he wanted to know about his family and friends. “Even though he was in Iraq and his life was at stake, he wanted to know how things were with us,” McDonald said.
Wood also is survived by two sisters, Katie, 25, and Carrie, 22; and his grandparents, Bob and JoAnn Nunn. He was to be buried Saturday at Pacific Crest Cemetery in Redondo Beach.