Memorial service held for two Ansbach-based soldiers killed in chopper crash
June 12, 2012
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — Family members and friends on Tuesday remembered a pair of soldiers with the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade in Ansbach, who were killed in last month’s helicopter crash near Kabul, Afghanistan.
The memorial service for Capt. John “Jay” Brainard, 26, and Chief Warrant Officer 5 John C. Pratt, 51, included messages from Pratt’s wife, Nicola, and Lt. Col. Christian Huettemeyer, the brigade rear detachment commander, according to Sgt. Roger Daniels of the Brigade public affairs office, who provided copies of some of the comments.
“John and Jay died not only doing what they loved, flying,” Huettemeyer said. “These are two men whose actions and life demonstrated that they believed in and stood for their principles.”
Capt. Christopher Gerbas, the rear detachment operations chief, described Pratt as a personal mentor whose more than 10,000 flying hours of experience were valued by those who worked with him.
“I think of the tremendous, positive impact he has had on this small community over those years: The number of pilots he has instructed, the number of commanders he has advised and the number of young officers like myself he has mentored,” Gerbas said.
Sgt. 1st Class Todd Twiggs, Brainard’s former platoon sergeant, recalled an officer eager to train and improve.
“I think above all, Jay was just happy to be living the lifestyle and fulfilling the career he had always dreamed of,” Twiggs said.
Brainard, of Newport, Maine, and Pratt, of Springfield, Va., were part of the brigade’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company. They were killed May 28, after their AH-64D Longbow Apache went down in Wardak province, just west of Kabul. The pilots were conducting routine combat operations, the brigade has reported. The crash is under investigation.
Brainard, the brigade adjutant, was on his first combat tour in his four years of service, according to the brigade. He is survived by his wife, Emily, and his parents, John Brainard and Susie Phelps of Newport, Maine.
Pratt was the brigade senior warrant officer and standardization pilot. He had deployed three times and served in the Army for more than 20 years. He is survived by wife Nicola; their daughter, Emma; and his parents, John D. and Josephine Pratt, of Springfield, Va.
The 12th Combat Aviation Brigade cased its colors on April 20 for a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan and Kuwait.