Friends and family members of a U.S. Navy sailor from Tamarac are in mourning after learning the 33-year-old died from injuries he sustained earlier this month in Afghanistan.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael J. Brodsky, 33, died from the injuries caused by a blast from a dismounted improvised explosive device in Kandahar Province, the Department of Defense announced Tuesday.
Family members said he had lost both legs and was struggling to stay alive.
"He died a true hero," said his grandfather, Stanley Brodsky, of Pembroke Pines.
Brodsky's parents, Steven and Debra, and his brother Corey were in Germany when the sailor died. The grandfather said the parents were asking for privacy.
Brodsky trained bomb-sniffing dogs for the Navy and had recently re-enlisted with the military branch for another six years, the grandfather said.
Brodsky had been assigned to the San Diego-based Navy Region Southwest Security Detachment since December 2010. He enlisted in 2001 and served overseas in Sasebo, Japan and Bahrain, according to military officials.
According to family and friends, Brodsky was on patrol in an undisclosed area when his unit came under fire on July 7. Brodsky reportedly rushed to a nearby truck to shelter his K9 partner, Jackson.
As he returned to the fire fight, Brodsky stepped on a mine, his grandfather said.
"I can picture him doing this. Going back to fight is something he would definitely do," Stanley Brodsky said.
Since the explosion, dozens of friends and family members kept updates on Brodsky's conditions through a Facebook support page set up by Nicole Arbelo, who runs a group called K9 Heroes.
One of Brodsky's friend, who kept in touch with the family in Germany and who provided Arbelo with most of the updates, broke the sad news on Saturday.
"There is no easy way to say this: we have lost MA2 Mike Brodsky," wrote the friend, Chuck Person.
A second Facebook page, which now serves as a memorial, was quickly filled with pictures, remembrances and prayers for Brodsky.
Arbelo, who has written a book about military dogs and their handlers who have been killed in action, met Brodsky through Facebook in recent years. She put together a moving video of her Facebook friend.
"With all the videos I made with pictures that included Michael, I never dreamed I'd be making a memorial tribute for you, hero," she wrote.
Stanley Brodsky said memorial services, which will be held in California, were still being planned.
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