Army Spc. Nicholas B. Burley, 22, died July 30 in Afghanistan of injuries suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with indirect fire, according to a U.S. Department of Defense news release.
Burley, who has relatives in western Nevada County, shared residences in Red Bluff and Foresthill and was famous among friends and relatives for his black Stetson cowboy hat and his boots.
“He grew up with his mother riding horses, so the outfit made sense,” said Zach Miller, Burley’s brother, after a memorial service at Hooper & Weaver Mortuary in Nevada City Monday.
Burley’s mother, Tammy Kneebone, was born and raised in western Nevada County, and her surname evokes the storied history of the region with Andrew Kneebone considered one of its founding patriarchs.
Mike Burley, Nicholas’ father, said he and his family were extremely proud of his fallen son.
“He comes from a conservative right-wing family,” Mike Burley said. “Absolutely, we are proud of him.”
An impromptu memorial took place in Nevada City after a large procession of vehicles followed the hearse conveying Burley’s body from Sacramento International Airport to western Nevada County.
Fire trucks stationed over the overpasses on Highway 49 had their lights flashing, and flags were flown at half-staff at the Eric Rood Administrative Center in honor of the fallen soldier.
“On behalf of all Californians, Gov. Brown and First Lady Anne Gust Brown honor Spc. Nicholas B. Burley, who bravely gave his life in service to our state and nation,” said Gov. Jerry Brown in a recent news release. “The governor and first lady extend their deepest condolences to his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Services for Nicholas Burley will be at 10 a.m. Today at Hooper & Weaver followed by a public celebration of his life at 1 p.m. at American Legion Post 587 in Foresthill.
Miller said it is still difficult to speak of his brother in the past tense.
“I can’t say he was … he is awesome,” Miller said. “He could still kick our butt in Halo.”
Miller said he and his brothers bonded over playing video games growing up and managed to stay in touch despite being spread out.
Burley was assigned to the 6th Squadron, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga.
In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for donations for care packages to Nicholas’ platoon. Contact American Legion Hall in Foresthill or the Military Outreach at Bayside Church, Granite Bay.
To contact Staff Writer Matthew Renda, email email@example.com or 530-477-4239.