|From the Maine Sunday Telegram pressherald.com
May 29, 2012
Mainer killed in Afghanistan remembered as 'one of the best'
U.S. Army Capt. John R. Brainard III of Newport was a 2004 graduate of Foxcroft Academy and a 2008 graduate of the University of Maine.
By David Hench firstname.lastname@example.org
and Dennis Hoey email@example.com
Darryl Lyon still has the book “Behind the Lines” given to him by Jay Brainard, the soon-to-be second lieutenant who was contemplating graduation from the University of Maine ROTC in 2008 and his likely deployment overseas.
The book is a collection of letters from soldiers in combat to their families back home.
Lyon was the enrollment officer for UMaine ROTC at the time and had just returned from a tour in Iraq.
“He asked what it’s like being separated from family. That was really on his mind,” Lyon said. “You try to assure them that there are plenty of family and friends surrounding them, that they’ll be OK,” he said.
Now Brainard’s wife Emily and a wide circle of friends are coping with the grief of his death.
Capt. John R. Brainard III, 26, of Newport, was flying an Apache helicopter with the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade in Afghanistan when it crashed and he was killed along with another soldier.
He died on Memorial Day, as thousands of Mainers took time to honor the sacrifice of those military men and women who have died fighting for their nation.
“He was a pretty accomplished young man, very well spoken, a Christian kid,” Lyon said. “He was one of the best . . . Maine lost a good one there. That’s going to hurt.”
Brainard grew up in the Newport area and graduated from Foxcroft Academy in 2004.
“Teachers and staff members remember Capt Brainard as a very determined young man that knew during his high school career that he wanted to be in the military,” said Arnold Shorey, who recently joined the academy as head of school. “We are proud to say he is a Pony (the school mascot) and have the sincerest appreciation for his service to our country.”
Brainard went on to attend the University of Maine on a scholarship and enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps. He graduated in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in military science.
“He was just a really solid kid all the way around, the American ideal in what we want in our officers,” said Lyon. “And then he went on to get accepted to flight school, then he got accepted to Apache flight school,” he said, noting that Apache helicopter pilots are a very elite group and to be picked for that training was an accomplishment in itself.
Brainard was a very organized, detail-oriented person as he was preparing to graduate.
“He certainly had a command presence when he came into the room, but he was a private guy, a detail guy, a very humble guy,” Lyon said, noting that Brainard came from a modest background and overcame some hardship to be able to attend college.
When Lyon, now commander of the Maine Army National Guard’s 11th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team, needed someone to help launch the ROTC program at what was then Husson College, he tapped Brainard. And when someone needed to resurrect the moribund 20th Maine Honor Society, Brainard showed up in no time with a three-ring binder, neatly tabbed, with a table of contents, Lyon said.
“He was that kind of kid,” Lyon said. “I just remember Jay as being the prototypical Maine guy done good.”
James Warhola, chairman of the University of Maine’s political science department, remembered Brainard as a hard worker and an enjoyable class participant.
“As so many of the prospective military officers are, he was very diligent, very conscientious about his studies, but he was also a kind of fun-loving person,” Warhola said.
Brainard graduated magna cum laude from the university, he said.
Chelsea Dougherty said she got to know Brainard and his wife-to-be Emily at the University of Maine in Orono when the couple had just started dating.
“He was always gentle and caring,” she said. Dougherty said she too is a military wife and aches for the pain her college friend is going through.
Brainard’s death was announced by the state’s congressional delegation and Gov. Paul LePage, all of whom expressed condolences for Brainard’s family.
“This news never comes easy and is especially difficult knowing this young man made the ultimate sacrifice on Memorial Day,” LePage said. “I join with all Mainers to forever remember him as a true son of the State of Maine.”
There were no details on how the crash happened and the cause is being investigated, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, said in a statement. She said he and his wife Emily met when they attended the University of Maine together.
U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she was saddened to learn of Brainard’s death.
“As we pause this week to reflect upon our nation’s fallen heroes, this is a somber reminder of the heroism of all the men and women who have served our country and made the ultimate sacrifice,” Collins said.
Those sentiments were echoed in statements by U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, D-2nd District, U.S. Sen. Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine.
“For those who make this ultimate sacrifice on behalf of us all, there are no words to express both our boundless gratitude and immense grief,” Snowe said.
Doug Harlow, Waterville Sentinel staff writer, contributed to this story.
|Flags to be lowered for Maine soldier's funeral
The Associated Press
BANGOR, Maine — Flags across Maine will fly at half-staff on Saturday as a funeral Mass is held for an Army captain who died on Memorial Day when the helicopter he was piloting crashed in Afghanistan.
The body of Capt. John Brainard III arrived in Maine on Thursday, and a wake was to be held Friday evening.
Brainard, of Newport, "loved serving in the Army," according to a statement from the Maine National Guard. It also quoted his widow, Emily, as saying Brainard was so dedicated to the Army that he "bled green" and believed his most important job was helping other soldiers.
Details of the crash that took the 26-year-old's life were unclear Friday but military officials say there was no enemy activity in the area at the time. Another soldier, Chief Warrant Officer Five John Pratt, 51, of Springfield, Va., also died in the crash.
Brainard was born in Waterville and attended Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, where he played jazz trumpet and was a member of the swim team and the 2003 championship football team. At the University of Maine, Brainard participated in ROTC and graduated magna cum laude in 2008 as a 2nd lieutenant in the Army. He had met his wife in college, and they were married that year.
Brainard attended flight school in Fort Rucker, Ala., and was deployed as an Apache helicopter pilot to Afghanistan on April 30.
After his body arrived back in Maine, hundreds of people lined the highway Thursday as his motorcade, led by state police and the Maine Patriot Riders, made the 26-mile ride from Bangor to Newport.
All four members of Maine's congressional delegation expressed condolences to Brainard's widow. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree also noted that 21 Mainers are among the 2,000 she said have lost their lives in Afghanistan.
"The war has gone on too long and I continue to urge the president to bring all our troops home as soon as possible," said Pingree, D-Maine. President Barack Obama wants to bring all troops home from Afghanistan by 2014.
The funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church in Dexter, followed by burial in Plymouth.
|From The Bangor Daily News bangordailynews.com
Fallen Army helicopter pilot remembered by wife as ‘amazing, strong leader’
By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff
Posted May 30, 2012, at 2:19 p.m.
Last modified May 30, 2012, at 2:36 p.m.
NEWPORT, Maine — Apache helicopter pilots are an elite group of soldiers, and Army Capt. John “Jay” Brainard III of Newport, who died in Afghanistan on Memorial Day, earned that distinction through hard work, according to Maine Army National Guard Maj. Darryl Lyon.
Brainard, 26, loved his job and dedicated his life to his military service, his wife, Emily, said in a Facebook message to the Bangor Daily News.
“Jay always wanted to be a soldier, and he was an amazing, strong leader,” she said. “He believed his most important job was to help other soldiers and he spent every day of his career doing just that. He will be always missed and remembered.”
Brainard was a 2004 graduate of Foxcroft Academy and a 2008 graduate of the University of Maine, where he met his future wife and Lyon, who was the Army ROTC enrollment officer at the time.
“He’s just the perfect example of a kid who came from modest means and who worked hard to do what he wanted,” said Lyon, who became commander of the Army National Guard’s 11th Weapons of Mass Destruction Civil Support Team based in Waterville last week. “It’s a tragic loss and Maine is going to hurt for a while.”
Lyon had just returned from serving a year in Iraq when he met Brainard in 2007. The UMaine student became a commissioned officer through the university’s ROTC program in May 2008 and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science. He went on to attend and graduate from flight school at Fort Rucker, Ala., in October 2010, his wife said.
“It’s very hard to get accepted into flight school for one thing, and to be accepted into Apache flight school is even more difficult,” Lyon said of Brainard’s accomplishments. “It’s not just getting drafted into the NFL, but also starting in the NFL on your first game. It’s pretty impressive for a guy from Newport.”
Brainard also helped Lyon when the ROTC program at Husson University was expanded to include on-campus classes.
“The Black Bear Battalion lost an distinguished alumni recently,” the Facebook page for UMaine’s ROTC program states. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Capt. Brainard.”
Brainard was an active-duty helicopter pilot with several units before being assigned to Headquarters Company of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, based in Katterbach, Germany, his wife said.
“He deployed with this unit to Afghanistan on April 30,” Emily Brainard said.
Maine’s congressional delegation and Gov. Paul LePage informed the public of Brainard’s death on Tuesday.
“Brainard was piloting an AH-64 helicopter when it went down on patrol,” 1st District U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree said in a statement. “The cause is being investigated.”
LePage and his wife, Ann, as well as U.S. Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, 2nd District U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, and Pingree expressed condolences to Brainard’s widow, other family members and friends.
The Apache helicopter crashed in Kabul, Afghanistan, and killed Brainard and another member of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, Chief Warrant Officer Five John C. Pratt, 51, of Springfield, Va., according to the Department of Defense casualties list.
Brainard’s funeral arrangements have not been released. A family member reached Wednesday in Newport said Brainard’s loved ones are grieving and do not wish to make a comment.
Lyon said he kept in touch with Brainard through Facebook and watched as his young friend filled his life with adventure.
“He went to Pompeii, Rome, all over,” the major said. “He was stationed in Germany and had photos of he and his wife skiing the Alps. It’s so sad — all that life.”
Jay and Emily Brainard went tandem skydiving in Schlierstad, Germany on April 1, 2012, and his wife posted the jump on YouTube. Most of the six-minute video features Emily, but it starts and ends with her getting a hug and kiss from her husband.
“Jay was my best friend, the love of my life, and my hero,” she said. “We spent almost seven incredible years together. I am so honored to have called him my husband and am proud of his military service.”