photos submitted to The Gazette by Mary Burazer
As of Friday, mother Mary Burazer
still hadn¡¦t heard from her
youngest son, but was hopeful that he
would turn up this weekend.
¡§I wake up with a lot of optimism,¡¨ Burazer said. ¡§Nights are hard, especially when you dream.¡¨
The 25-year-old Iraq War veteran was supposed to go to the family¡¦s house the night of July 19, but never showed up.Burazer
older brother, also his
roommate, that he
was going to his
family¡¦s home around 9:30 p.m. July 19.His
brother called the house the next morning to see if his
sibling had spent the night.
¡§We were worried because two other times he
just left for the day,¡¨ Mary Burazer
One of those times Burazer took the Blue Ridge Parkway and called when he
came to Virginia.
On July 13, he
drove down to Columbia, S.C., and his
mother called him and told him to come back home.
This time was different
¡§Bad things can happen in the wee hours,¡¨ Burazer
¡§He didn¡¦t leave with a lot of money,¡¨ Burazer said. ¡§He didn¡¦t have a change of clothes.¡¨
The family found a packed duffel bag in his
room.The duffel bag also contained his
cell phone charger.Burazer graduated from East Gaston High School in 2000 and served three years in the Army as a military cook.
Eleven months of that time was spent in Iraq.He
didn¡¦t know when he
joined the Army
that he¡¦d be going to Iraq, his
mother said.The family joked with him that it would be ¡§Paul¡¦s Excellent Iraqi Adventure.¡¨
¡§He wasn¡¦t in any combat operations,¡¨ Burazer said. ¡§There was only a few skirmishes at all.¡¨
The war in Iraq changed him, Burazer
found it hard to get back into civilian life. He
also came back depressed.Burazer
believes that is the main reasons he
¡§I guess he
felt like he
wasn¡¦t going anywhere,¡¨ Burazer
said.Burazer attended Gaston College for a semester in 2005 and attended Central Piedmont Community College before going into the army.He
was planning to go back to college, Burazer
had even registered for Belmont Abbey College¡¦s adult degree program this fall.
¡§He just felt directionless lately,¡¨ Burazer said. ¡§He felt like he
didn¡¦t know what he
was going to do with the rest of his
...After Burazer had been gone five days, the family contacted Select Investigations, a private investigating firm.
had worked at the Eddy Restaurant
and Bar at the National Whitewater Center
since February as a dishwasher and preparation cook, his