Family, friends remember life of Grovetown man killed in Afghanistan

By: Jessica Dill Email
By: Jessica Dill Email
Michael Bradford (WRDW-TV)

Michael Bradford (WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, May 21, 2013

GROVETOWN, Ga. (WRDW) -- A radical militant group is claiming responsibility for a bomb attack in Afghanistan on Thursday that killed six Americans. One of the civilian contractors killed in the car bombing was Michael Bradford of Grovetown.

On Thursday, Bradford's wife, Sasha Cantrell, and their friend, Jimbo Thrash, heard the news they feared the most.

"It's hard, it really is for us. I still don't believe it, I still feel like he's still going to come home, but he's not, he's not going to come home. It hurts," Thrash said.

Thrash says he's holding his little one closer this week. Just four days ago, his life was turned upside down when he found out he lost his best friend in Afghanistan.

"He would make anybody laugh, he was so outgoing. I wish everybody could be like Michael, I looked up to Mike. He was just so amazing," Thrash said.

Bradford and Cantrell moved to Grovetown a year ago.

A veteran of the U.S. Army, Bradford previously served in Iraq and Korea. This time, he was working as a civilian contractor in Afghanistan when his wife's nightmare came true.

"They said, 'Is your husband's name Michael Bradford?' and before I could answer, I knew something had happened and I fell to the ground and started crying," said Cantrell over the phone.

At 24 years old, Cantrell lost her husband, who was the love of her life. But she's not alone -- she is seven months pregnant with Michael Jr.

"He loved him from the moment he found out about him. That it was one of the best days of his whole life and that I want our son to know that his daddy died a hero," Cantrell said.

"Our boys together growing up, that's what really hit home for both of us. She was due in two months and the excitement he was having of that ... I can't wait, we're going to be able to raise them together ... Oh God, that kills me right there," Thrash said.

Thrash says the CSRA and the country has taken a loss this week, but the memory of Bradford will live on through his son.

"I could never compare to Mike, there's no way but to help out and teach his son anything that I can. I know he's going to be smart as a wiz, just like Mike, absolutely. I'm going to try and help raise him the best that I can," Thrash said.

Bradford's wife has some advice for everyone.

"Please, I just want everyone to know, please don't take your parents for granted, don't take your spouse for granted ever. Hug them, call them and tell them you love them and thank them for everything that they do," she said.

Bradford will be receiving the full military honors and will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Cantrell says the burial will take place after their son is born so he can attend his father's funeral.

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