BANGOR, Maine — Flags across Maine will fly at half-staff on Saturday as a funeral Mass is held for an Army captain who died on Memorial Day when the helicopter he was piloting crashed in Afghanistan.
The body of Capt. John Brainard III arrived in Maine on Thursday, and a wake was held Friday evening.
His military funeral service is scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church, 64 Free St. in Dexter. He will be buried at Sawyer Cemetery in Plymouth.
Brainard, of Newport, “loved serving in the Army,” according to a statement from the Maine National Guard. It also quoted his widow, Emily, as saying Brainard was so dedicated to the Army that he “bled green” and believed his most important job was helping other soldiers.
Details of the crash that took the 26-year-old’s life were unclear Friday but military officials say there was no enemy activity in the area at the time. Another soldier, Chief Warrant Officer Five John Pratt, 51, of Springfield, Va., also died in the crash.
Brainard was born in Waterville and attended Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, where he played jazz trumpet and was a member of the swim team and the 2003 championship football team. At the University of Maine, Brainard participated in ROTC and graduated magna cum laude in 2008 as a 2nd lieutenant in the Army. He had met his wife in college, and they were married that year.
Brainard attended flight school in Fort Rucker, Ala., and was deployed as an Apache helicopter pilot to Afghanistan on April 30.
After his body arrived back in Maine, hundreds of people lined the highway Thursday as his motorcade, led by state police and the Maine Patriot Riders, made the 26-mile ride from Bangor to Newport.
All four members of Maine’s congressional delegation expressed condolences to Brainard’s widow. U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree also noted that 21 Mainers are among the 2,000 she said have lost their lives in Afghanistan.
“The war has gone on too long and I continue to urge the president to bring all our troops home as soon as possible,” said Pingree, D-Maine. President Barack Obama wants to bring all troops home from Afghanistan by 2014.
The funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church in Dexter, followed by burial in Plymouth.
The Bangor Daily News contributed to this report.