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L/CPL JAMES BROWN (1986-2006)

IRAQ MEMORIAL SERVICE

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A memorial service was conducted for James at Camp Habbaniyah 
on November 16.  Cpl. Chad Nickerson and Cpl. Barry Mullen
spoke at the service.  Their remarks are reported here by
Cpl. Ray Lewis, battalion photographer for the 3/2. 
 
(USMC Web Site; Ray Lewis photos)  

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MEMORIAL PROGRAM FOR JAMES (PHOTO BY CPL. RAY LEWIS)

CAMP HABBANIYAH, Iraq (Nov. 16, 2006) - Marines from 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment paused their combat operations to honor a fallen hero at the chapel during a memorial service here Nov. 16.

Lance Cpl. James E. Brown, 20, of Gibson County, Ind., 
was killed in action Nov. 2 while conducting combat operations in the Habbaniyah area.

"Lance Cpl. James Brown courageously fought and courageously died," said Lt. Col. Todd S. Desgrosseilliers, the 43-year-old battalion commander, from Auburn, Maine
. "He heard a call to duty and volunteered to serve our nation without fear or without hesitation."

Brown served as a rifleman for the battalion's I Company under Regimental Combat Team 5.

During the ceremony, Marines from I Company had an opportunity to honor Brown with their personal reflections.

"I remember the first time I saw Lance Cpl. Brown, standing at parade rest on the third deck catwalk with the rest of the new Marines," said Cpl. Chad A. Nickerson, a squad leader with I Company. "I walked up and down the line staring at each one, getting my first glimpse of the Marines that were about to go to battle with me soon."

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SERVICE FOR JAMES AT CAMP HABBANIYAH (PHOTO BY CPL. RAY LEWIS)

The 23-year-old rifleman from Tyngsboro, Mass., said, believe it or not, Brown stuck out for some reason.

"I didn't know why at the time, but I realize now it was because he had something special," Nickerson said.

Brown was born with something that the majority of people don't have, he added.

"Brown was a born leader," Nickerson said in front of Brown's inverted rifle memorial that balanced a helmet.

From that point on Nickerson kept an eye on him.

"He had a way of getting Marines to do stuff that most would try anything to get out of," Nickerson said. "Even though they had got to the fleet at the same time as Brown and were not considered junior to him, they followed him as if he had been in the Corps for years. It was amazing."

Nickerson said Brown was the type of Marine who offered undivided respect for his seniors.

"He could tell the good ones from the bad ones and soaked up as much knowledge as he could," he said.

Nickerson remembers one Saturday morning specifically.

"About 0800, in the states, Brown comes pounding on my barracks door," he said. "I stumble to the door thinking something is wrong. I see that it is Brown and ask him what he wants. Turned out he just wanted some infantry knowledge to copy in his notebook and study over the weekend. The extent that he went to in order to improve his combat readiness was above most of his seniors."


Brown didn't stop there.

"The first weekend when James got to the fleet, I was watching T.V., and James knocked on the door, looking for any knowledge I might be able to provide him with," said Cpl. Barry A. Mullen, a team leader with I Company.

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INVERTED RIFLE MEMORIAL (PHOTO BY CPL. RAY LEWIS)

The 24-year-old Mullen, from Yonkers, N.Y., said that was what earned him a leadership billet some were not trusted to have.

"You could task him with anything and no supervision was required," Nickerson said. "He made sure that the job got done every time, without someone looking over his shoulder, babysitting him."

He also had a great work ethic, Mullen said.

"I could tell by the first field day James' room was the only room to be done in two-and-a-half hours compared to the rest of the other Marines," he said. "He was diligent in making sure his fire team was set up for success in Iraq.
You were guaranteed that when James was on post he was there waiting to shoot his weapon."

Two of the best leadership traits he had were unselfishness and loyalty, Nickerson said.


"He would never make one of his guys do something that he wouldn't do first," he said. "Not only that, but he would always put his guys needs, comforts and overall well-being before his own. That is a rare thing to find in the world today. Those little things are what separated him from other leaders. Not only was he an outstanding Marine, but he was also a great person."

It's kind of an unwritten rule that senior Marines aren't supposed to hang out with junior Marines, Nickerson said.

"I'm glad I broke that rule," he said. "I hung out with Brown and got to know him very well. He had a little brother that looked up to him on another level. He loved his mother and sister unconditionally. He also talked highly of his stepfather who raised him from a very young child but tragically passed away in a car accident some time ago."

"James would come down to my room after work and stand in front of the window with boxing gloves, only to run back up to his room, drop the gloves and come back to my room to stand in front of my window this time flexing," Mullen said. "He would ask me, 'Hey beast, are you going to the gym?' And if I said no to James, he would motivate me by saying, 'Hey, I'm catching up to you lance corporal.' This was a nightly routine until the day we left for Iraq."

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MARINES SUFFER THESE MEMORIALS FAR TOO OFTEN

Everyone should have had a chance to know Brown, Mullen said.

"For everyone that didn't get the opportunity to know James, you missed out," Mullen said. "A man like James only comes around once in a lifetime. I am glad to have known James and have him fight by my side. I am most proud to have called James Brown my brother in arms."

Brown enlisted in the Marine Corps and attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C., in June 2005. 
Following boot camp, he complete the School of Infantry East at Camp Geiger, N.C., and earned the military occupational specialty of a rifleman. Brown reported to I Company, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. He deployed in July 2006 to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He completed pre-deployment training at Camp Lejeune, N.C., and Marine Corps Air-Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif.  His awards include the Purple Heart, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.

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"Well, Brown always said how he felt it was a privilege and an honor to go to Iraq and serve his country," Nickerson said. "On November 2nd, at 1130 Lance Cpl. James E. Brown gave the ultimate sacrifice, while standing post and protecting the lives of his fellow Marines.

"Brown touched the lives of so many people that never got the chance to thank him," he added. "I guess this is my chance. Thank you, Brown. We will all miss you, and our lives will never be the same without you."

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