A story behind a soldier’s tattoo

Kyle Hockenberry (Stars and Stripes photo by Laura Rauch)
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This image on Time magazine's website shows infantryman Kyle Hockenberry in a helicopter in Afghanistan receiving treatment after surviving a road-side bomb blast in which he lost both his legs and his left arm. On the right side of his ribcage is a tattoo that reads "For those I love I will sacrifice."

The words take on a terrible resonance in this context.

They were particularly meaningful for one New York City employee.

"It's a lyric I wrote in my mom's house when I was 16," said Justin Brannan, 33.

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Brannan, now a top aide to New York City Councilman Vincent Gentile, was a member of a hardcore punk group called Indecision that traveled the U.S. and around the world from 1993 to 2000.

His friends quickly recognized the words as a line from a song called "Hallowed Be Thy Name," on a record that was released in 1997.

"That song was like our anthem, our Free Bird," said Brannan.

He said he didn't assume Hockenberry had even heard of his band, and said the lyric has circulated among tattoo enthusiasts, many of whom are unaware it's a line from a song.

"I have no idea if that guy has heard my band," Brannan said. "I know some firefighters and cops that got it after 9/11."

He nevertheless has reached out to Hockenberry's family, and plans to do a benefit concert for the wounded solider in Brooklyn, where the band originated.

"It's very sobering and puts things into perspective," said Brannan, in an interview this afternoon. "It makes you want to do everything you can for someone."

As for his move from hardcore punk to City Council employee, Brannan said it's not as unusual as it sounds.

"I got involved in politics because I felt if I wanted to really make change, I had to stop throwing rocks at the window and go into the building with the windows," he said. "Hardcore and punk was all about questioning authority and finding yourself ... It was kind of like the logical next step for me."

To send letters, cards, etc. to Hockenberry:

PFC Kyle Hockenberry, c/o Kathy Hockenberry
Legacy Heights Apartments
Apartment 10103
1320 Austin Highway
San Antonio, TX 78209