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Old 03-21-2007, 01:33 PM
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LCpl Kyle W. Brown, USMC, 22, Newport News, VA (Iraq)

Arlington National Cemetery

Kyle W. Brown
Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps

Family takes comfort in slain Marine's love for service
By KATE WILTROUT, T
Courtesy of The Virginian-Pilot
January 10, 2006

Rodney Bridges was asleep Saturday afternoon when four uniformed Marines came calling at his Poquoson home. His 12-year-old son, Daine, let them in, excited they might be friends of his beloved older brother.

Instead, the men delivered the news every military family dreads: Bridges’ eldest son and Daine’s brother, Private First Class Kyle W. Brown , had been killed Saturday in Iraq.

“He was 100 percent Marine. That’s what he always wanted to do, and that’s what he did,” Bridges said Monday.
The 22-year-old , a 2002 graduate of Newport News’ Heritage High School , was no stranger to combat. It was his second tour in Iraq. He served with Echo Company, 2nd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment from Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Bridges, who did a hitch in the Army, said his son grew up dreaming of military service and was especially impressed with an uncle who had served multiple tours in Vietnam as a Marine. At Heritage, Brown enrolled in the junior reserve officer training corps, or JROTC. He headed to Parris Island , South Carolina, weeks after receiving his diploma.

“When he went to boot camp, with his size, a lot of people didn’t think that he could make it,” his father said. “But in hand-to-hand combat, his instructor told us, he cleaned house.”

Quiet, with a wiry body that was two inches shy of 6 feet, Brown’s physique didn’t scream “Marines,” said retired Navy Cmdr. Tom Smith , a JROTC instructor at Heritage.

Still, Smith remembered him as a model cadet who returned to the school after making it through basic training to talk to the other students. He visited Smith again after his first tour in Iraq in 2003.

“He’d seen a lot of action, been in a lot of tough fighting,” Smith said. “He was still the same quiet guy. He was more serious.”

Bridges, 43 , takes some comfort from knowing that Brown died doing what he loved. During his 3½ years in the military, Brown was deployed more than he was home. He participated in the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and did a tour in Afghanistan. He trained in Japan and Korea, served for a few months in Africa, and helped the Philippines’ military fight al-Qai da forces in that island nation, Bridges said.

Brown trained as an assaultman, his father said, specializing in anti-tank and anti-personnel missions that can require close combat. He also carried the squad automatic weapon.

Since Brown was killed, Bridges has heard repeatedly about what a good Marine his son was. A friend of Brown’s in Iraq – a guy who co-signed the loan for Brown’s new Yamaha motorcycle – wrote to say that Brown had made life more enjoyable and that he always tried to do the right thing, even when that was impossible.

The details of Brown’s death in Fallujah are still murky. The Marines told Bridges that his son was felled by light arms, probably a pistol or a rifle, and they suspect a sniper may have targeted him.

The family is waiting for Brown’s body to arrive in the United States . They recounted the last time they were together before Brown’s unit deployed in September.

Hotels outside Camp Lejeune were booked solid; the family shared a room that had only one bed. Brown slept on the window seat. “It’s better than a sand trap underneath a tank,” Bridges remembered his son saying .

The next day, older and younger brother enjoyed some last-minute horseplay. Father and son traded “I love yous” through an open car window.

Brown shielded his father from a nagging feeling about the upcoming deployment. Bridges said that only lately did he learn that Brown told his father’s fiancee, Carolyn Byrd , he didn’t have a good feeling about his second tour in Iraq.

The news has been especially difficult on Bridges’ mother, Bridges said; Brown lived with his paternal grandmother in downtown Newport News during high school.

Bridges’ sister brought their mother – a cancer survivor who had surgery last week – to Bridges’ house in Poquoson to break the news.

She pounded Bridges on the chest, insisting it couldn’t be true. Later, she fainted and fell, ripping open her incisions and requiring an ambulance ride to the hospital, Bridges said.

Bridges said his son will be interred with military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Services are pending. Those wanting to remember Brown are asked to make a contribution in his name to the American Cancer Society.

“You don’t ever plan on burying your children,” Bridges said. “Kyle died, and he died in one of the better ways – in the service of his country, so we can enjoy the liberties we have.”
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
8 February 2006:
Kyle Brown was a skinny, gangly kid who struggled to join the U.S. Marine Corps. He died just after his 22nd birthday — a hero in Iraq.

He volunteered to return for a second tour of duty, said his mother, Theresa St. Pierre of Oak Harbor.

“He was a dedicated Marine and I am a proud Marine mother,” she said.

Kyle volunteered to return to Iraq because he thought he should be with his unit, St. Pierre said.

He was on patrol with his unit near the troubled city of Fallujah early on January 7, 2006, when they were attacked.

“Kyle took a fatal shot from a sniper’s gun. It hit him in the face and he died nine minutes later,” his mother was told by the Marine Corps.

The news was devastating to his mother and his step-father Richard St. Pierre. Although Kyle had lived mostly with his father since he was 14, family bonds remained strong.

Memories flooded back of a son who decided early on a military career. His patriotism was stirred by a great-grandfather — a World War II veteran.

But it wasn’t easy for Kyle to meet the Marines’ requirements.

As a toddler he’d suffered hearing loss due to ear infections. As a result, his speech and reading were delayed. But he was determined to graduate from high school with a full diploma. One teacher guided all his extra homework hours.

Another teacher encouraged body-building to meet the Marines’ weight requirements.

“He just didn’t scream Marines,” his mother recalled of her son’s slim physique. “He was an exceptional kid, kind and loving and it was rare for him to say a harsh word about anyone,” she said.

When Kyle was 12, he spent one summer in Europe with his maternal grandmother Anita Sherrill. Often called “Doc” because she holds two doctoral degrees, she has taught the past 10 years in Oak Harbor schools.

But in 1995, Sherrill was directing education programs for the Department of Defense in Europe.Sherill took Kyle and another grandson Jason to Disneyland Paris and then to Germany. They climbed Zitzwitz, the highest mountain peak in Germany. He was inspired. Kyle said later. “If I can climb the Zitzwitz, I can be a Marine.”

“I had a wonderful time with him,” Sherrill said.

He also meet some DARE officers from the Los Angeles Police Force who were visiting the European schools. This encounter may have led him to plan to go into law enforcement at the end of his military career.
But this was not to be.

He died along with two other Marines that tragic morning in Iraq. He was buried January 16, 2006, in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors.

“He died fighting for our way of life... freedom of religion... women’s rights. He saw mistreatment of women in Iraq and Afghanistan while he was there,” she said.

Kyle entered the Marines within weeks of high school graduation, completing boot camp October 2003. He trained in Korea and Japan. His first duty tour was the 2003 invasion of Iraq. He also served in Afghanistan, Africa and the Philippines.

Kyle’s mother was presented with the U.S. flag flown home with him from Iraq. She placed flowers and mementos on top of his coffin before it was lowered into the grave.

“I watched him born and I watched him laid to eternal rest,” she said.

She is compiling a book about Kyle’s life and requests anyone who knew him contact her with their remembrances. Her e-mail is richandtia@verizon.net.

A mememorial service is set for 2:15 p.m. on Sunday, February 12, 2006, at the Elks Lodge, 155 N.E. Ernst in Oak Harbor.
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