OAKHAM- 1st LT Mark Nathaniel Brunelle, of Oakham, MA, passed away on Saturday, October 31, 2020, at the age of 26.
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Mark was born on Mother’s Day, May 8, 1994, and was raised in Oakham, MA. He attended Oakham Center School and graduated from Quabbin Regional Junior/ Senior High School with academic distinction as part of the National Honor Society in 2012.
Growing up in Oakham, Mark could always be found riding his bike, playing with trucks in the sandbox or running around with wooden swords in the yard with his brothers. As he grew older, Mark spent his time working at Pine Acres Campground, working the race track in Ware, hunting and fishing with his father and brothers or out driving around the prison camps in his ‘86 Bronco. He loved to swim and bodysurf at the beach and was a member of the Quabbin Cross Country and Track team in high school. Mark also participated in Boy Scouts throughout his childhood achieving the rank of Eagle Scout on May 12, 2012. Above all though, Mark had a love and passion for flying.
At a young age, Mark decided he would become a fighter pilot and set his sights on achieving that goal. Mark was awarded a full Marine NROTC scholarship to attend Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. Between his junior and senior year at Embry Riddle, Mark attended Marine Corps Officer Candidates School, graduating on July 3rd 2015 in Quantico, Virginia. On May 10th 2016, Mark graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical Science, earning his FAA multi-engine/instrument flight ratings, and received a regular commission as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. 2nd LT Mark Brunelle received his first salute from his grandfather Sgt. Ernest C. Brunelle USMC.
Following completion of The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia on March 1st 2017, Mark was assigned to Training Air Wing FIVE, Naval Air Station Whiting Field to complete his Primary Flight Training, earning a Certificate of Merit in recognition of his superior performance, a distinction achieved by only 8 percent of students trained annually.
Mark then became a Tiger of Training Squadron NINE flying T-45C Goshawk Jet Trainers at Naval Air Station Meridian in Mississippi. Following a long year of training that culminated with his carrier qualifications aboard the USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74), 1st LT Mark Brunelle received his Wings of Gold, pinned on by his father Cpl. Michael M. Brunelle USMC, on October 25th 2019, designating him a Marine Naval Aviator. It was this day Mark received his assignment to fly the F-35B Lightning II with VFMAT-501 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort in South Carolina.
Mark enjoyed sharing his love of life with others in so many ways. He loved cooking large breakfasts and grilling steaks for his family and friends to come together, holding large bonfires and lighting off fireworks. He cared greatly for others and loved to help others succeed in their passions; whether it was studying with classmates, mentoring young midshipmen or helping his sisters move, Mark was always there with a smile on his face.
Mark is fondly remembered by his parents, father Michael Brunelle and mother Donna Brunelle, his four siblings, Ellen, Megan, Matthew and Jack, his paternal grandparents, Ernest and Marilyn Brunelle, maternal grandmother, Phyllis Brandon, his uncles, Jeff Brunelle and Ed Marks, his aunt, Susan Potet and his cousins Elise Lewis, Nikki Marks, and Andre and Annie Potet. Mark is predeceased by his aunt, Paula Marks.
Family and friends are invited to attend calling hours on Friday, November 13, 2020, from 4 - 7 p.m. in St. Joseph’s Church 296 North Main St. North Brookfield. .The funeral mass will be celebrated on Saturday at 11 a.m. in St. Joseph’s Church. Burial with military honors will follow in Pine Grove Cemetery, Old Turnpike Road, Oakham, MA. Arrangements are under the care of Pillsbury Funeral Home 44 Gilbert St. North Brookfield.