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Tributes pour in about soldier killed in Wednesday’s crash

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 5:54 PM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - As the news spread that a 29-year-old Fort Drum soldier died in Wednesday’s crash, posts began to flood social media - many commenting on the great person Brandon Needy was.

“He taught me so much. I think in his authenticity and letting us into his life and then, you know, in reverse his authenticity is what draws people to him,” said Andrea Sawtelle, who met Needy more than a decade ago.

She was a youth pastor in Hagerstown, Maryland and Brandon was in high school. She says at first she would see him in passing when he and his friends would skate near the church, but their relationship would change when Brandon and his buddies all came to one of the church’s events.

“It was, like, a low key event. It was an Easter egg hunt inside the church in the dark and they just started coming every week and bringing their friends,” said Sawtelle.

Sawtelle says she got to watch his faith grow and eventually baptized him some years later. She said Brandon was kind and loving.

“He is such a great example of just what grace does and the way that, like, God can meet you wherever you are,” she said.

Sawtelle is one of many who took to Facebook on Thursday to share memories and thoughts about Brandon and a final thought that Sawtelle had - the way that Brandon changed her life.

“I am still talking about this kid in my classes, in my youth ministry circles, because he taught me so much about just loving people where they are at because that is how he modeled his life,” she said.

We believe Needy served in the Army for more than 10 years, and had a passion for being a soldier. We reached out to Fort Drum to learn more about Needy’s service to his country, but post officials said they could not provide any information at this time.

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