Originally created 04/15/04

Officer killed in Iraq was 'part of the family'



OAK RIDGE, Tenn. - An Oak Ridge pastor who performed the marriage ceremony of a Marine captain less than five years ago will officiate at the officer's funeral service today in Memphis.

Last week, Capt. Brent Morel, 27, was killed while on a reconnaissance mission in Fallujah, Iraq.

The Rev. Bobby Mullins, a Baptist minister, said he first got to know Capt. Morel after he began dating the pastor's niece, Amy Mullins.

The couple married in June 1999.

"Brent was part of the family," the pastor said. "He sat at the cousins' table at Thanksgiving and Christmas."

Capt. Morel, who grew up in the Memphis area, graduated from the University of Tennessee at Martin as a commissioned officer in the Marine Reserves. The couple moved to California, where he was stationed at Camp Pendleton.

The Rev. Mullins and his family last saw Capt. Morel the day after Christmas.

"Brent knew then he was going to Iraq and knew what he would face," the Rev. Mullins said.

The pastor said he isn't sure when Capt. Morel's time with the Marines would have been up. During the holidays, the officer and his wife looked at land near where his parents live, and were talking about having children.

The Rev. Mullins said he got the call about Capt. Morel's death from his brother at about 2 a.m. last Thursday.

"He was called to be a Marine," the pastor said. "He was destined to be a Marine."