May 27, 2018
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Funeral for Newport helicopter pilot killed in Afghanistan set for June 16

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

NEWPORT, Maine — The funeral for Army Capt. John “Jay” Brainard III of Newport, who died on Memorial Day when the Apache helicopter he was piloting went down while on patrol in Afghanistan, will include a flyover by Black Hawk helicopters and a 21-gun salute.

The memorial service is being planned for 1 p.m. Saturday, June 16, at the Crosby & Neal Funeral Home at 117 Main St. in Newport.

Brainard’s body is scheduled to be flown from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and arrive June 14 at Bangor International Airport, Capt. Shanon Cotta, spokesman for the Maine Army National Guard, said Monday. The body then will be escorted by motorcade to Newport, where visiting hours are planned for Friday. Brainard’s funeral and burial services are scheduled for the next day.

Maine State Police will lead the motorcade but details about the procession have not been released because plans still are being confirmed by Brainard’s family, Cotta said.

Brainard, 26, was an active-duty helicopter pilot with Headquarters Company of the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, based in Katterbach, Germany, when he was deployed to Afghanistan on April 30, said his wife, Emily Brainard, who lived overseas with him.

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 body was flown last week to Dover Air Force Base, home to one of the country’s military mortuaries.

“It will be a full military funeral conducted by a local Catholic priest,” funeral director Mike Crosby said Friday of the service for Brainard. “A burial in Sawyer Cemetery in Plymouth will follow with a flyover by a detachment of Black Hawk helicopters.”

Brainard was a 2004 graduate of Foxcroft Academy and a 2008 graduate of the University of Maine, where he met his future wife. He also participated in UMaine’s ROTC program and helped to expand the program to Husson University.

Brainard was “a kind-hearted, fun-loving guy” who was passionate about political science and studied his heart out, said UMaine professor James Warhola, who was his instructor.

Brainard graduated magna cum laude in 2008 with a political science degree, which requires a grade point average of at least 3.5, said Warhola, who is now chairman of the university’s political science department.

“He just seemed really to love life and at the same time was earnest about his studies,” his one-time teacher said.

Several professors at UMaine have discussed the possibility of setting up a scholarship in Brainard’s honor, Warhola said.

Brainard, who grew up in both Newport and Dover-Foxcroft, loved his job flying helicopters and dedicated his life to his military service, his wife said in a Facebook message to the Bangor Daily News.

“Jay always wanted to be a soldier, and he was an amazing, strong leader,” Emily Brainard 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.”

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