Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Scott Brown laid to rest

Brookfield - Whether it was striving for Army promotions, playing football or riding his Jeep along the beach, Scott Brown infused passion into everything he did, friends and relatives recalled Tuesday.

"His spirit was one of the most positive and uplifting spirits," childhood friend Steve March said. "He could always make you laugh."

Sgt. 1st Class Brown, a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, was memorialized at Becker Ritter Funeral Home in Brookfield and Wood National Cemetery in Milwaukee.

Brown, 33, was killed May 18 while on patrol in Baghdad when his unit was hit by an explosive and small-arms fire. Army specialist Marquis J. McCants, 23, of San Antonio also was killed, and two other soldiers were injured.

A long procession of vehicles led mourners Tuesday from the funeral home to the cemetery.

Two fire engines from Brookfield and Elm Grove raised their ladders to form an arch over North Ave., on the procession route. A U.S. flag hung between the two ladders, and police and fire officials and residents saluted from the sidewalks.

Friends and family recalled Brown on Tuesday as a carefree, fun-loving, dedicated military man who loved his son, Taylor "T.J."; his wife, Delilah; and their two children, Vickie and Cassie.

Finding hope, not hate

Brown's older brother, Michael Brown, urged mourners to find hope and love, not hate or anger, in his brother's death.

"He was a man who would not have me feel hopeless, a man who did not know fear," Michael Brown said.

"On my best day I can hardly manage to be half the man my brother, Scotty, was," he said.

Mourners listened to a bugler playing taps and watched as medals and pins were awarded to Brown's wife, mother, siblings and son. A warm breeze flapped the flags that ringed the canopied ceremony, and trees shaded the casket from the sun.

Just feet away from the service were gravestones of other fallen soldiers from the Iraq war - Michelle Witmer, Michael McGlothin and Todd Cornell.

"Scotty" James Brown grew up in Brookfield, the youngest of three children of Lynne and the late Vernon Brown, who served in the Army after the Korean War.

Boys being boys

Steve March, who has known Brown since they were 4, recalled hanging out at the Brown house when the family had a bulldozer in the backyard. At the age of 5 or 6, March said, he and "Scotty" were mischievously driving the dozer around, "digging things up."

Brown graduated from Brookfield Central High School. He worked several jobs and had a son with his high school girlfriend, Kristen Leedom of New Berlin.

He joined the Army in 1998 and eventually was assigned to Company A of the 1st Battalion of the 325th Airborne Infantry Regiment at Fort Bragg, N.C.

Military colleagues described him as a natural leader, working his way up to a platoon sergeant.

"He loved the challenge of the Army," said his sister, Debbi Hood. "Anything that he thought was hard to do and that people would say was impossible to do, he would make sure he got it done."

He served tours in Kosovo, Kuwait and Iraq before meeting and marrying "the only true love of his life," Delilah Brown, his brother said. Scott Brown then was sent to Afghanistan and Iraq twice more.

Fellow Army Sgt. Jesse Walker, who served with Brown in Kosovo and Iraq, recalled how his usually confident friend was weak-kneed when he met Delilah, begging Walker to call her for him to set up a date.

Hood said that despite her brother's serious commitment to the military and his country, he was the family clown.

"He could take a serious room and make us all rolling on the floor in minutes," she said. "He was a big kid."

He adored children. Among the photos on bulletin boards inside the funeral home were snapshots of Brown fishing, camping or four-wheeling with his children, nieces and nephews.

In other photos, he was on military patrol overseas with children surrounding him, smiling and flashing peace signs. In the middle was Brown with a broad grin. Another photo showed him holding a child's art project while parachuting.

The family suggested memorials to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, a cause they said Brown supported.

From the Journal-Sentinel

Related Link:
Scott J. Brown dies of 'wounds suffered when his unit came in contact with enemy forces using an IED and small arms fire'