Sunday, April 11, 2004

New York Army National Guard Pfc. Nathan P. Brown

Remember Our Heroes

New York Army National Guard Pfc. Nathan P. Brown, 21, of South Glens Falls, N.Y.

Pfc Brown was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, 1st Armored Division, Army National Guard, Glens Falls, N.Y.; killed April 11, 2004 when his patrol was ambushed in Samarra, Iraq.

New York guardsman remembered with full honors
By Kirstan Conley
Associated Press

GLENS FALLS, N.Y. — An American flag and Rick Brown’s face were reflected in the windows of St. Alphonsus Church here Tuesday.

Brown stared straight ahead as the flag was draped over the silver casket of his 21-year-old son, who was killed while serving in Iraq.

About 1,000 people waited inside the church to follow the fresh-faced New York Army National Guardsmen, who eventually would lead Nathan Brown’s body along the banks of the Hudson River to his plot in the Saratoga National Cemetery.

Brown, who attended South Glens Falls High School, died April 11 when a rocket-propelled grenade hit his Humvee in Samarra, Iraq, about 60 miles north of Baghdad. The attack also injured friends from Brown’s hometown who served with him in the Army National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, based in Glens Falls.

Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany noted how Brown’s death came on Easter Sunday, the same day people in the young soldier’s hometown celebrated the resurrection of Christ. The Christian faith, Hubbard said, is one of paradox: death brings life and suffering brings glory.

Members of Brown’s battalion carried his casket. Men in dress uniforms retired from battles dating back to World War II flushed as they strained to hold back tears.

Brown planned to get married and enroll in Adirondack Community College when he returned. Staff Sgt. Arthur Coon gave a eulogy, saying he was proud to recruit Brown. He said the military sent Brown a defective backpack, then a second one to replace it.

“He arrived to say his final goodbye and gave me the backpack,” Coon said. “It seemed like a simple gesture. He gave me the new one and kept the damaged one.”

Coon said he wants people to remember Brown’s generosity and positive attitude. He said a planned arsenal in Glens Falls should be named in Brown’s honor.

Brown’s friends, Robert Havens and Joe Nassivera, embraced after breaking down in tears as they tried to put in words what their friendship with Brown meant. Friends recalled Brown building forts, playing along the river and causing mischief.

Brown was buried with full military honors. Shots echoed across rolling green hills and cornfields as a seven-member rifle team fired its salute.

The soldier also received a special honor when members of the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation Regiment of the New York Army National Guard flew five UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from Albany International Airport to the service in a Missing Man Formation.

Maj. Gen. Thomas Maguire, a two-star general and the state’s highest-ranking National Guard officer, presented the family with a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and a New York State Medal of Valor. The state Senate approved a resolution honoring Brown’s memory.

“What can I say and what can I do to mend the heartbreak of the family?” asked state Sen. Elizabeth Little of Warren County. “At a time when words seem very inadequate, I think the only thing we can do is through our presence and through our actions here today in this resolution and through our thoughts and prayers express our sorrow and sympathy to family and our gratitude.”

New York Army National Guard Pfc. Nathan P. Brown was killed in action on 4/11/04.

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