His name was Bernard Brown. He was a Specialist (E4) in James Bond's company and his wife Sherrie worked at the Commissary. They were expecting their first child and he was the friendliest, happiest guy you could ever meet. I don't remember him not smiling. He loved football and laughing and went by his middle name because he so disliked his first name, which was Lunsford. When James Bond's unit (we were living in Heidelberg at the time) deployed to Kuwait in 2002, Bernard stayed behind as part of the rear detachment (people in the unit who run the day to day and liaise with the forward part of the unit). Since most of the men were gone during our company Christmas party, Bernard volunteered to play Santa. He was the jolliest Santa ever. We all laughed when he came in because, Bernard was a big guy (not fat, just big), but had still put a pillow in the suit and looked like an overstuffed turkey. Here's a photo of him holding Indy:
The company came home just before Christmas and redeployed in Feb. 2003 in anticipation of the Iraq invasion. This time Bernard did not stay behind, but deployed with the rest of the unit. Sherrie was due in June and while he was sad that he would miss the birth, he felt his place was with his fellow soldiers and hoped he would see the baby soon. Sherrie moved back to the States to be with her family and gave birth to a little girl, Amber. Bernard was ecstatic and a soldier we knew said when Bernard got the news he jumped on top of a Humvee and yelled out to everyone that he was a dad. He was so excited and couldn't wait to meet his little girl. The war was in full swing though and no one knew exactly when they would be coming home.
James Bond had fractured both his feet in Iraq and got sent home the day after Indy's first birthday for surgery and recovery. While we were thrilled JB was home, we still worried about those left in Iraq. By Sept, after the first in a series of surgeries, James Bond was well enough to travel and flew to the States to visit his family for a few weeks. Indy and I stayed behind in Germany. On the morning of Sept 21, our phone rang and it was rear-d looking for JB. They need him to call in. They were doing an accountability because there had been a casualty in Iraq. My hands shook as I dialed his parent's number. I spoke to JB briefly and he told me he'd call back as soon as he could. I sat for a very tense half an hour or so, worrying about our friends when he finally called. He was crying. Bernard had been killed in his sleep by a mortar attack. When we hung up, I cried thinking about Sherrie and little Amber, who was only 3 months old and would never meet her happy, smiling father. Bernard Brown was 27 years old.