Ari D. Brown-Weeks
Specialist, United States Army
U.S. Department of Defense
DoD Identifies Army Casualties
The Department of Defense announced today the death of seven soldiers who were supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. They died Septtember 10,2007, in Baghdad, Iraq, of injuries suffered from a non-combat related vehicle rollover. They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Staff Sergeant Yance T.
Gray, 26, of Ismay, Montana
The circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation.
For more information on these soldiers, the
media may contact the 82nd Airborne Division public affairs office at (910)
When Ari D. Brown-Weeks learned that his wife planned to visit Washington, he asked that she go to Arlington National Cemetery, take photos and e-mail them to him in Iraq.
"He especially wanted a video of the changing of the guards," said Ashley Weeks, 21, a Harford County native. "I took the pictures on a beautiful, peaceful day, and I know he saw them."
Specialist Brown-Weeks, 23, an Army paratrooper who had lived in Abingdon, Maryland, for two years, was killed in a truck accident in Baghdad with six other soldiers Monday, military officials said. The truck rolled off an overpass and plunged about 30 feet to the road below.
After a service at the church where the couple were married in December, Specialist Brown-Weeks will be buried at Arlington.
"I know Arlington is where he wants to be," Ashley Weeks said yesterday, sitting in the couple's Abingdon home. "He really believed in what he was doing and was proud to serve."
Specialist Brown-Weeks, a Massachusetts native, moved to Maryland about two years ago, soon after meeting his future bride at the grand opening of a C&S Wholesale Grocers store in New Jersey. He worked for the company in Massachusetts and eventually arranged a transfer to one of its locations in Aberdeen.
Before his move to Maryland, Brown-Weeks came for a visit and brought a Red Sox jersey that he insisted Ashley wear to an Orioles game at Camden Yards. She later made a trip to his childhood home in Leyden, Massachusetts.
Specialist Brown-Weeks, a standout athlete in school, had long considered joining the Army. He met with a recruiter several times and enlisted in May 2006, his wife said. He left for basic training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, on Memorial Day.
"He always wanted to be in the Army," Ashley Weeks said. "He said he felt badly for the kids in Iraq growing up surrounded by war. He hoped the U.S. troops would make a difference so those kids wouldn't grow up to be terrorists."
Just before he left, Specialist Brown-Weeks asked Debbie Tillery, Ashley's mother, for permission to marry her daughter.
"He was everything I could have hoped for Ashley," Ms. Tillery said.
Specialist Brown-Weeks trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, and was assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was deployed to Iraq in January, a month after his wedding. The couple stayed in frequent contact by cell phone and e-mail.
Two other soldiers who were killed in the truck accident attracted attention last month for an op-ed piece in The New York Times in which they expressed skepticism about the war.
Ashley Weeks said her husband had no such doubts.
"He was frustrated by the anti-war stuff," said Ms. Weeks, whose car sports an "I love my soldier" bumper sticker. "He said Americans had no idea how bad life was for the Iraqis."
Specialist Brown-Weeks was due home in November and was considering re-enlisting, his wife said. She had planned to return to Fort Bragg next month, find an apartment and settle into Army life.
The soldier promised his wife that he would stay in Maryland after he left the Army. He had thought about a career in law enforcement or as a firefighter.
"I think he always wanted to fight the bad people and save lives," Ms. Weeks said.
News of the soldier's death reached state and county officials meeting in Bel Air yesterday. They observed a moment of silence in his honor.
In addition to his wife, he is survived by
his parents, Karyn Brown and Jon Weeks of Leyden; and his maternal grandparents,
Charles and Margaret Brown of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania.
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Maryland Soldier, Killed in Iraq, Is Laid to Rest
By Mark Berman
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Thursday, October 4, 2007
People join the military for many reasons. Specialist Ari D. Brown-Weeks was influenced by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He was killed one day before the sixth anniversary of the attacks.
Brown-Weeks, 23, of Abingdon, Maryland, died September 10, 2007, in Baghdad when the truck he was riding in rolled over, according to the Department of Defense. It was a noncombat-related accident, and the circumstances surrounding the incident are under investigation. Six other soldiers died in the accident.
Brown-Weeks was laid to rest yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery, buried in Section 60, alongside many of those killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was the 374th member of the military killed in Iraq to be buried at Arlington.
More than 90 mourners, including his parents, Karyn D. Brown and Jon M. Weeks, and his widow, Ashley Weeks, followed Brown-Weeks's flag-draped coffin to the grave site.
Brown-Weeks was a talented athlete who played baseball and soccer and loved to ski. He was also a writer with a passion for poetry, his father told the Republican newspaper in Greenfield, Massachusetts.
"He loved his family above all and was loyal to the end with his friends," his father told the Republican. "He loved being around people and always needed to be where the action was."
Ruth Charney, who taught Brown-Weeks when he was in 7th and 8th grades at Greenfield Center School in Massachusetts, remembered him as "very warm-hearted."
"People often talked about his beautiful smile, how much he could radiate a kind of joy and pleasure in things and warm other people," Charney, now retired, said.
She was recently cleaning out files and found some essays and creative writing pieces he had done for her language arts and literature classes. "I was struck with the sense of detail, his attachment to people and things and family and friends. He was someone who did have that kind of real deep attachment and loyalty and ability to have enduring friendships," she said.
Brown-Weeks was a rambunctious student, but he had a good heart and always owned up to what he did, Charney said. He would later go back to the school and work as a mentor and coach to mischief-causing kids such as he had been.
"It's a tragedy," she said. "He had so much life ahead of him."
Brown-Weeks was affected by the terrorist attacks and joined the Army in May 2006, his father told the Republican. He married Ashley Weeks in December of that year and was deployed to Iraq a month later. He was due back this fall.
The soldiers killed with Brown-Weeks were Staff Sergeant Yance T. Gray, 26, of Ismay, Montana; Staff Sergeant Gregory Rivera-Santiago, 26, St. Croix, Virgin Islands; Sergeant Michael C. Hardegree, 21, of Villa Rica, Georgia; Sergeant Omar L. Mora, 28, of Texas City, Texas; Sergeant Nicholas J. Patterson, 24, of Rochester, Indiana; and Specialist Steven R. Elrod, 20, of Hope Mills, North Carolina. They were assigned to the 1st Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Gray and Mora were among a group of soldiers
who last month wrote a New York Times op-ed piece criticizing the U.S.
strategy in Iraq and disputing claims of success.
21 December 2007:
On December 15, 2007 a Celebration of Life for Ari D. Brown-Weeks was held in Greenfield, Massachusetts. He grew up in Leyden, Massachusetts, moved to Abingdon in 2005 and is buried at Arlington National Cemetery. At the service, Ariís mother, Karyn Brown, paid tribute to her fallen son. Her words follow:
"Thank you everyone for being here to celebrate the life of our beloved Ari. As the story of Ariís death unfolds, and Ashley [his wife], Jon [his father] and I continue to get the details of the worst day of our lives, I look inside my fragile heart to focus on the memory of Ari as the happy, beautiful person, so full of life and potential, that he was. I wondered what to say about him at this event ... and then it became clear that I wanted to focus on the happiest moments of my life with Ari, because they were the happiest moments of Ariís life.
"This week last year, on December 10, Ariís goal of marrying his soul mate was fulfilled. He had looked for the woman of his dreams since he was about 12, and he and Ashley found each other in 2005 when Ari was 21. They spent time together, Ari decided to go into the Army, and during that time they decided to get married. While military training was a profound and life-changing goal fulfilled, Ariís relationship with Ashley was the rainbow leading to the pot of gold, their commitment of marriage.
"Ari was never happier than on his wedding day. You should have seen him, and some of you did, rosy cheeks like two shiny apples, blue eyes sparkling, his famous smile, as big as could be, fixed on his beautiful face, so proud, dancing, playing, conversing, hugging, kissing, gracefully moving from guest to guest, to Ashley, to friend, to Ashley, to family, to Ashley, to everyone, and back to Ashley, making all feel special and important to him.
"Ari was a vision to behold. He had his reluctant grandmother dancing with confidence in her stocking feet, and loving it. His reserved and proper grandfather laughed with abandon, when Ariís head disappeared under Ashley's wedding dress to retrieve the traditional garter, untraditionally, in his teeth. He received a face full of wedding cake good-naturedly from his new bride and refrained from returning the favor, beaming at Ashley's mischievous smile.
"Ari even seemed pleased that I sang, in its entirety, John Lennonís ďBeautiful BoyĒ into his ear while we danced, as I did at bedtime when he was little and more forgiving.
"Ari was so himself, so genuine, so exuberant, in his element, basking in all our love, as well as his own. Jon and I were filled with pride and happiness for the responsible, committed, accomplished caring person Ari had become. We imagined the future with all the anticipation of things to come for Ari and Ashley, their family, and all who love them. Our world was filled with hope and promise for our precious son and our lovely new daughter-in-law.
"And now, to the present.
"My memories of the glorious day of Ari and
Ashley's wedding bring me much joy, but they are also the source of unrelenting
sorrow for the loss of our beloved Ari. He still had so much to do, so
much more of life to experience, and my heart breaks for him that he didn't
get the opportunity to continue in this life that he loved so well."
BROWN-WEEKS, ARI D
Posted: 14 September 2007 Updated: 4 October 2007 Updated: 9 October 2007 Updated: 18 November 2007 Updated: 21 December 2007 Updated: 12 May 2008 Updated: 30 October 2008
Photo By M. R. Patterson, May 2008
Photos Courtesy of Holly, November 2007