National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

Roll of Honor

Age: 47
Year of Death: 2005

Brian Bruns

There is no profile listed for this fallen firefighter.

Memorial Posts


Memorial Wall

  • (will not be published)

  1. I had the pleasure of serving with Brian in the US Navy in Patrol Squadron 49. He was a model sailor, recognized as “Sailor of the year”(Navy wide), and went on to become a Navy Pilot. He loved flying and fighting fires. He also loved the camaraderie that exists in both communities. It’s been 15 years since he was lost in a training mission. We miss him.

    – Danny Pitts
  2. I served with Brian in VP-40 in the early 1990’s. He was such a wonderful person and a really great friend.

    – Angie Fitzgerald
  3. I served with Brian in the Navy at Moffett and we became fast friends. He was the kind of man who helped you no matter what was happening and he always did it with that big smile of his!

    Since there isn’t a profile, here is some detailed information about him:
    Services for Brian K. Bruns, 47, Minden, Nev., will be at 2 p.m. Friday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Lawrence. Burial with military honors will follow in Memorial Park Cemetery.
    Mr. Bruns died Wednesday, April 20, 2005, north of Chico, Calif., in a plane crash.
    He was born Dec. 20, 1957, in Ellsworth, the son of Kenneth I. “Bud” and Erma Sexton Bruns. He moved to Lawrence in 1959 and graduated from Lawrence High School in 1975. He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Kansas University in 1985. He also attended Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla.
    Mr. Bruns served in the U.S. Navy as a flight engineer and was commissioned as an ensign Aug. 19, 1988. He received his pilot’s wings in February 1990. He was a Gulf War veteran and was stationed at Moffet Naval Air Station in northern California. He was most recently with a VP Squadron based at Point Mugu in southern California. He had attained the rank of lieutenant commander. He briefly flew as a commercial airline pilot and later joined Aero Union Corporation to fight wildfires for the U.S. Forest Service.
    Survivors include his parents, Lawrence; three brothers, Randy Engle, Kansas City, Mo., Rusty, Lawrence, and Dean, McPherson; and a sister, Sharon Rose, Lawrence, and several nieces and nephews.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2005 ljworld

    LCdr US Naval Reserve, P-3 Orion pilot. In civilian life an Aircraft Firefighter pilot
    for Aero Union Corp. Killed when his aircraft crashed.

    Partial article about the crash.
    “The Rainmakers”

    By Douglas Gantenbein
    Air & Space magazine, September 2005

    In the rugged mountains outside Chico, California, workers swarmed over a sun-baked hillside, filling huge fabric bags with the shattered bits of a Lockheed P-3B: torn aluminum, blackened engines, broken propellers, and tangled wiring. Nearby, a small scuff showed where the airplane’s tail compartment, used to hold sonar equipment when the craft flew for the Navy, had struck. In a few feet, the scuff grew into a long “V” of soil scraped bare. Beyond, charred stubs of manzanita bushes stuck out of the torn earth.
    And then, a massive pile of wreckage. The warm air smelled of jet fuel and the sage-like aroma of ceanothus shrubs. “It’s like they just fell out of the sky,” says Michael McCart, an insurance adjuster managing the crash recovery for the airplane’s insurer, of the aircraft’s three-man crew.

    Five days earlier, at 6:38 p.m. on April 20, Tom Lynch, 41, Brian Bruns, 45, and Paul Cockrell, 52, had taken off in the P-3B from the Chico Municipal Airport. As chief pilot of Aero Union, Lynch was responsible for training the company’s pilots in the demanding art of fighting fires from the air. Aero Union flies aircraft that have been modified to rain retardant on fast-moving blazes, and in preparation for the 2005 fire season, Lynch was evaluating the skills of Bruns and Cockrell. Bruns, who had flown P-3s for the U.S. Navy and still flew them for the Naval Reserve, was at the controls of the 39-year-old aircraft, its tanks filled with 2,550 gallons of water (retardant is not used for training missions). Bruns headed toward a mountain range north of the airport. Once there, the P-3B swooped low over hills and ravines so the crew could release water over the training area. The pilots had already made several practice runs that day, returning to the airport after each flight to refill the P-3B’s tanks. On the final flight of the day, Bruns began maneuvering over the drop zone. A transponder on the aircraft stopped transmitting at 6:50 p.m., and a few minutes later, witnesses called 911 to report seeing a fireball and smoke rising from the mountains.

    – DonnaLou Morgan
  4. Brian was my big brother. So many good times had by everyone who came in contact with him. Brian saw good in everyone, trusted everyone and lived his cut-short life to the fullest! Family and friends loved him and he loved ALL of us. It’s been 17 years and still hurts like it was yesterday. We should all tip our hat and raise a toast to those who gave their life to help make ours better! Love you bro and love you forevermore.

    – Rusty Bruns
  5. Almost 18 years since Brian died. He was my first love and best friend. He never met a stranger and liked a good joke. Sometimes life kept us from staying in touch but he was never far from my thoughts. I will always miss you, old friend. And yes, I know I lost our bet!

    – Kitty Parsons Wright