But it was with his family's blessing that the 1999 Boonsboro High School graduate left June 2 for basic training at Fort Benning, Ga.
In May 2003, when he was considering enlisting, it was not clear what the long-term impact of the injuries to his sister would be, Mary Burral said.
And Nancy Burral said it would have been difficult emotionally to have two children in the military at the same time.
Mary Burral returned home from the hospital in July 2003. She has a rod in her left leg because of damage to her kneecap and bones, she said. The only long-term, noticeable impact of her injuries is a slight limp, she said.
Once she was over the pain and off medication, she was able to think more clearly and decided her brother could benefit from time in the military, she said.
She enjoyed her time in the Army and has no regrets, despite what happened to her, she said.
Nancy Burral said one factor that changed her stance was a conversation she had about a local boy who was killed in a car accident.
She said she decided that having her son risk his life for his country would be preferable to having him die in a car crash.
Mary Burral, a 1996 graduate of Boonsboro High School, decided to join the Army in January 2001 because she was looking for a challenge and a way to better herself, she said. And that, she said, is exactly what she got.
Burral's 54th Engineering Battalion was working to rebuild Iraq's roads. On the day of the attack, Burral was driving a truck carrying a trailer that holds water, she said.
Her unit was taking a long, winding route because it had been told the shorter route was too dangerous.