Son of fallen Hoosier hero accepts Purple Heart award on his behalf

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Fourteen years after Sgt. William Brand died, the fallen Hoosier hero is getting recognition for his service and sacrifice.

Friday night, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office posthumously awarded him a Purple Heart. His now 17-year-old son accepted it on his behalf.

"It makes me proud, it reassures my memories of him," said John Robert Brand, Sgt. Brand's son. "I don't think a moment goes by where I don't think of what would my father want, what should I strive to be, what should I represent from him."

Sgt. Brand died in 2005 after what was initially thought to be a crash on his way home from work. But investigators soon discovered a former inmate had actually driven alongside him and shot and killed him.

His widow then made him a promise.

"That I'd do everything I can to make sure that he's recognized for the duty that he did for Monroe County," Stacy Brand-Lesley said. "He was just a wonderful guy. He did everything that he could."

Years later his death was finally recognized as a line of duty death and his name was added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial wall and the Indiana Law Enforcement and Firefighter's Memorial wall.

"I thought it was appropriate to award the family of Sgt. Brand the Purple Heart posthumously and show that he's not forgotten and we want to give him all the recognition he deserves," Monroe County Sheriff Brad Swain said.

Sheriff Swain was one of the first detectives on the scene in 2005. Sgt. Brand's family said he's fought to make sure his death was recognized as a line of duty death. So while the sheriff handed out awards, they surprised him with his own recognition, a thank you.

"This is something that I don't think he had to do, but I think he felt he had to do because it's right," Brand-Lesley said. "He's always done what is right and to me that's something that my husband, my late husband would have done."

The service and memory of Sgt. Brand is never forgotten, but for his family the award is a piece of closure.

"I think for my mother, I think this is the last page for this book," John Robert Brand said. "I think out of everything this is her final closure."

The sheriff also recognized others who have passed away in the department and handed out awards for bravery and valor to deputies.

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