Remembering the Life and Memory of...
LCpl Donald S. Brown
Pfc. Donald S. Brown | Visit Guest Book
The youngest of four children, Donald S. Brown followed the path of his older brother, Kenneth, a Marine who had served in Iraq for three tours. "I think he knew that when he went in he would have to go to Iraq _ Kenneth told him that," said his father, Philip Brown. "He wanted to be a history teacher, but he wanted to go into the Marines first. He wanted to take part in history." Brown, 19, of Succasunna, N.J., was killed during combat Oct. 25 in Anbar province. He graduated high school in 2005 and was assigned to Kaneohe Bay. Annette Brown said her son always had a smile and loved four-wheeling, eating "no-fuss" baked chicken _ his favorite meal _ and hunting at his grandfather's farm in New York. "He was just one of those people who, you say his name and five people turn around and say 'Don Brown? I love Don Brown!' I've never met one person who didn't like Don Brown," said Kimberly Mooney, a friend. Brown went out for the football team his freshman and senior years, and was one of the fastest runners on the track team. He returned to school to tell everyone about boot camp. He also is survived by his fiancee, Megan Robinson
Hometown: Succasunna, New Jersey, U.S.
Age: 19 years old
Died: October 25, 2006 in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Unit: Marines, 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii
Morris Marine is killed in Iraq Dad: 'He wanted to take part in history'
By JOHN WIHBEY AND MAURA McDERMOTT
Marine Pfc. Donald Steven Brown saw his brother survive three tours in Iraq. He was determined to go, too.
And he finally did last month, fulfilling a dream he had to defend his country just like his big brother once did. But Brown's desire to serve his country was cut short.
The buoyant 19-year-old who graduated from Roxbury High School last year died Wednesday from wounds suffered in combat, his family and military officials said yesterday.
The youngest of four children, Brown had followed the path of his 23-year-old brother, Kenneth, a Marine who had served in Iraq before leaving the Corps last September.
"I think he knew that when he went in he would have to go to Iraq - Kenneth told him that," his father, Philip Brown, said. "He wanted to be a history teacher, but he wanted to go into the Marines first. He wanted to take part in history."
Brown's parents recalled that their son loved being in the woods and playing football at the high school. He had gotten engaged in May, but long ago had set his sights on serving in the military.
"It was something that he really wanted to do to protect his country," his mother, Annette Brown, said from the family's home in Succasunna.
The Marine rifleman died from wounds he suffered during combat operations in Al Anbar province, according to a Department of Defense statement. Violence in the Sunni Muslim stronghold has plagued the American military effort.
Brown was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii.
Six Marines from Brown's battalion were killed this month in Iraq, and another Marine, Pfc. Daniel B. Chaires, 20, of Tallahassee, Fla., from the same battalion was killed the same day, according to Marine 1st. Lt. Binford Strickland.
At least 96 soldiers have died in Iraq this month, the highest number of casualties in a single month since last October. Brown was the 62nd soldier with New Jersey ties to be killed in the war.
He has been awarded the Purple Heart, the National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. Brown was in line for promotion to lance corporal on Nov. 1, military officials said.
Annette Brown said her son always had a smile and loved four-wheeling, eating "no-fuss" baked chicken - his favorite meal - and hunting at his grandfather's farm in Belmont, N.Y.
A member of Maranatha Baptist Church in Succasunna, Donald Brown joined the Marines in September 2005 and trained at the Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, S.C.
Brown's father said only one thing made his son flinch from the assignment.
"He knew he was going to leave his fiancee behind, so there was a little reservation there," Philip Brown said. Donald Brown's older sister, Michele Riera, 28, of Michigan, said he met his fiancee, Megan Robinson of Flanders, through a friend.
Roxbury School Superintendent Dennis Mack said it was a "difficult situation" for the high school yesterday after Brown's death was announced over the school intercom as students sat in classrooms.
Rumors of the recent graduate's death had begun circulating in the morning, and the school made grief counselors and psychologists available after administrators broke the news to students.
"He's very close to a lot of kids who are still in school," Mack said. "It's a shocking turn of events."
Roxbury has not had a former student die in combat since 1970, when a young man was killed in the Vietnam War, the superintendent said. A shrine to honor that veteran sits near the high school auditorium, and the school hopes to add a tribute to Brown soon, Mack said.
A Veterans Day ceremony to be held Nov. 8 in Roxbury will commemorate Brown, school officials said.
Mark Solis, 20, a classmate who played football and ran track with Brown, recalled the tall and slender teen always talked with friends about how excited he was to join the Marines.
"He just always seemed to be the perfect kind of person to be in the military," said Solis, a college sophomore. "He was very disciplined, he was very honest, very positive, nice to everyone."
Brown often spoke about "how much he wanted to go over there and make a difference," Solis said. "He was a pretty quiet kid at first from an outsider's point of view, but if you got to know him he was definitely just one of the nicest kids you'd ever know."
Brown only went out for the football team his freshman and senior years, but he was a dedicated athlete who was one of the fastest runners on the track team, Solis said.
R.J. Canning, a fellow football player and 19-year-old sophomore at Rowan University, said he remembers Brown making a playful whooping noise while he was running back a punt and all his fellow players on the sideline laughing at it.
"That was definitely one of the better moments of that season," he said.
He said the last time he saw Brown was in the Ledgewood Mall, where he was hard at work with his Marine uniform on.
"I saw him over winter break last year, and he was actually recruiting to get some more kids signed up," Canning said. "He was telling some stories about boot camp. He was in good spirits."
Harry Mangiro, whose son Santino, 17, is a senior football captain this year, said Brown made a big impression on families last year when he spoke at a school function about his plans to fight for his country.
"Everybody held their breath a little bit," Mangiro recalled. "The moms, they cringe . . . and the dads, you know, here's a kid who's focused on what he wants to do, and God bless him."
Mangiro's son learned of Brown's death late Wednesday night, as teens passed the news around over instant messages on their computers. It hit a little harder, coming so soon after the death of Marine Lance Cpl. Christopher Benedict Cosgrove III, a 23-year-old Hanover man who was killed by a suicide bomber on Oct. 1, Harry Mangiro said.
"It's finally starting to hit home here in Morris County," Mangiro said of the war.
In addition to his mother and father and siblings Kenneth and Michele, Donald Brown is survived by another brother, Joshua. Funeral arrangements were pending yesterday.