On Jan. 6, Bergeron was killed when his Bradley fighting vehicle hit a roadside bomb outside of Baghdad. His ninth year of service was to have ended in April. For his service, he was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, the Army Good Conduct Medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge.
"He loved his family, friends, and all children," said Bergeron's aunt, Becky Domangue. "He was a proud, dedicated soldier that fought for our country and lost his life fighting for our freedom, our children's freedom, and our future generations' freedom. He knew how important it was to defend his country."
Sgt. Bergeron left behind his parents, Angela and Earl Jr., brother Chris, fiancÃ©e Amber, and many other family members. He also left behind his former boss, Sam Bowen, and his co-workers at Bowen's Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration.
"Bradley came to work for us in November 2001," said Bowen. "His last date worked was May 5, 2004, about one week before leaving for Fort Hood for specialized training.
"Bradley was a unique person. At the young age of 25, I considered him a top-notch duct fabricator and installer. He was a perfectionist at whatever he set out to do. His finished product was clean, neat, and always completed in a timely manner.
"We consider it an honor to have had the opportunity to work with Bradley. We admired Bradley's drive to give 100 percent at whatever he did, whether laying out duct or cleaning the warehouse. He was a perfectionist, which was exemplified through his work. He possessed qualities such as loyalty, commitment, and dedication, which has been an inspiration to his co-workers and us."
Co-worker Chad Bowen added, "He was dedicated worker and also a good friend. He would do anything for you, no matter what the case was. He always seemed to make the day go by faster."
In a press release, Dr. David Boudreaux, vice president for Institutional Advancement at Nicholls, said, "We are proud to help keep alive the memory of a soldier who gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country. We will do all that we can to assist the Bowens to achieve their goal of an endowed scholarship."
According to the press release, when the fund reaches $10,000 it will be permanently endowed. The interest from the account will provide a scholarship to a member or dependent of a member of the United States armed forces, including active duty, active reserve, retirees, National Guard and honorably discharged members.
Preference will be given to members of Charlie Company of the 2nd Battalion/1st Regiment of the 256th Infantry Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard.
"Although his biggest dream was to get married and start a family, Bradley did want to go to college to further his knowledge and career in the air conditioning and heating industry," Bowen said.
"His future may or may not have included a lifetime with Bowen's Heating, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Inc., but we would have supported him in broadening his horizons into bigger and better things."
Bowen sent letters out to the community, asking for donations to the scholarship, stating, "The scholarship will assist students who qualify with their tuition and fees at Nicholls State University."
Earl Bergeron was very supportive of his son's plans to further his career through college training. "We encouraged Bradley to pursue whatever line of work he wanted to do, but knew if he wanted to have a family one day he would need to go back to school to further his education to get ahead in the air conditioning/heating line of work," Earl said.
Bergeron was encouraged to enter the HVACR trade by another family member - his uncle, Anthony Domangue, of A.D. Refrigeration, Air Conditioning, and Heating. His aunt Becky described his dedication to the trade.
"While in high school and after graduation, Bradley would help Anthony with installations, and ride around with him to do service in his spare time for extra money," she said.
"After being employed in two non-HVAC-related jobs, Anthony helped Bradley obtain a job with Southern Sheet Metal/Duct-Fab where he learned to fabricate and install ductwork. Bradley enjoyed the work."
"He loved to help people in life, and now this scholarship will live on after his death. Although he lived a short life and was quite a simple man, he has made a huge impact in the lives of people who knew him personally and also very many who have never met him. He is and always will be a true hero in the eyes of people all over the world."
His mother, Angela, said, "Bradley was a good-hearted person who realized that sometimes being a hardworking person wasn't always enough to get ahead in life; he would also need to further his education. He would want anyone who needed help obtaining an education to get that help."
Sam Bowen is coping with the loss of his friend and employee. "He will be sadly missed by all of us here, but never forgotten, for he has left an indelible mark on our hearts and within our company."
For information on making contributions to the Sergeant Bradley J. Bergeron Scholarship Fund, visit www.nicholls.edu.
Publication date: 02/14/2005