Jeffery S. Brown, 25
Based: Ft. Riley, Kan.
82nd Medical Company (Air Ambulance)
Supporting: Operation Enduring Freedom
Died: August 9, 2006
Hometown: Trinity Center
High School: Trinity High (Weaverville)
Burial: Cremated, ashes scattered on family's land
From the LA Times:
Sgt. Jeffrey S. Brown came home to Trinity Center, Calif., on leave over the Fourth of July, right as his six-year commitment to the Army expired. But after a couple of weeks, he headed off to finish his third tour of duty in Iraq.
Military service for Brown, a crew chief on a UH-60 Black Hawk air ambulance helicopter, had been extended through the stop-loss program, an unpopular Pentagon practice of holding on to personnel involuntarily -- a move that many service members and their families see as a "backdoor draft."
Brown's mother and father are no exception.
Their son was one of two soldiers killed Aug. 8 when their helicopter, assigned to the 82nd Medical Company at Ft. Riley, Kan., crashed into a lake in Al Anbar province, west of Baghdad. The Army said mechanical failure probably was responsible for the crash, which occurred on a routine flight.
Brown, 25, tracked the doomed helicopter's descent from his vantage point behind the pilot until impact. His last words, according to his father, were "Fifteen feet to water!"
"My kid should not be dead, because he did live up to his contract, and the Army did not live up to theirs," said Ed Brown, 58, a retired Department of Forestry fireman who served in South Vietnam's Central Highlands in 1967 and 1968, and came home with a gunshot wound in his right leg and shrapnel in his back and left leg.
"I guess if we're going to put all of our trust in [military officials], then they should be trustworthy -- and they aren't," he said. "In Vietnam, you just went for 12 months and then you came home. If you went again, you did it voluntarily."
Brown and his wife, Diane, 49, a neonatal intensive care nurse, are now seeking a compassionate discharge for Timothy, in light of his brother's death.
"Every day he's over there, there's a chance he'd go back to Iraq," Brown said of Timothy. "And I don't know if I could handle that psychologically."
Both Jeffrey and Timothy enlisted in the Army before they graduated from high school so they would be guaranteed training as helicopter crew members. When they turned 18, their father and mother said, they were old enough to decide for themselves what they wanted to do with their lives.
Ed Brown said he didn't try to talk them out of joining the Army, but added: "I didn't encourage them to be infantry, because that's what I did in Vietnam, and I didn't think that was a good idea. Little did I know."
Jeffrey Brown, 6 feet 1 and 220 pounds, started at fullback on Trinity High School's football team and played on the team that won the north state championship, his father said. He graduated in 2000.
He grew up on 24 acres of land covered by towering pines, firs and cedars in the Trinity Alps, 35 miles northwest of Redding. An outdoorsman, he loved riding motorcycles and came to embody California's laid-back lifestyle among his fellow soldiers, both at Ft. Riley and in Iraq.
He served as best man at the wedding of a fellow crew chief, Allyn Hankins, a year ago.
Asked to reflect on Brown's qualities as a friend and fellow soldier, Hankins said in an e-mail from Iraq that he would always remember his best man "for his ability to make things fun no matter what." He also forwarded comments from 10 other soldiers as a tribute to Brown.
"I honestly can't remember the guy not smiling," wrote Staff Sgt. George Stuart. "He was always happy, what about I don't know. Maybe he had a squirrel in his pocket. I am going to miss that about him."
Sgt. Ethan Rogers called him "a soldier among soldiers" and added: "Now there was a man I can honestly say I was damn proud to know."
Brown's father remembers a conversation he had with his son as they cut firewood together when he was home this summer.
"He said, 'If I was out now, I wouldn't have to be going back,' " Ed Brown said. "I said, 'Well, yeah, one more trip and you'll be done' -- and five weeks later he was dead."
"I am not mad at the Army -- I am sad," Brown said. "My son was doing what he wanted -- and he loved what he was doing."
Afflicted with terminal thyroid cancer, Ed Brown remembers another talk he had with Jeffrey as they walked the hill above their home. Looking down across their land, he told his son that when he died, he wanted his body to be cremated, with his ashes scattered here. "And he said, 'I'd like that too.' "
In addition to his parents and brother Timothy, Brown is survived by an older brother, Michael, 27, a state correctional officer; and a younger sister, Kathryn, 19, a college student.
Read more about Army Sergeant Jeffrey S. Brown
at the Iraq Page.
at the Iraq Page.
Killed with Army Sergeant Jeffrey S. Brown was
Sgt. Steven P. Mennemeyer, 26,
of Granite City, Ill.