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Friends remember Brown#039;s duty and pride

PFC Johnny Eli Brown, 101st Airborne, was killed Monday when the vehicle in which he was riding exploded near the airport in Baghdad. The cause of the explosion has not been determined.

On Tuesday, many of those who knew the 22-year-old soldier paused to remember him and his dedication to duty and pride in country.

The Rev. Steve Rascoe, said Brown was a good friend and often talked openly with him.

"Johnny was a compassionate person who knew his own heart and had a love for many things," Rascoe said. "He wanted to serve in the military because he wanted to make a difference. He was honored and excited to serve.

"For Johnny, the military was a calling and he felt good about being a part of it. Whatever he did, he did with his heart and a willing spirit. The Army was a great place for him but God has a better plan for him now."

Brown's death came at a time the nation was beginning to breathe a little easier. The fighting is sporadic and the liberation of Iraq is imminent. But, the danger is still there for defenders of freedom.

"This just reminds me of just how dangerous the situation is," said Jason Reeves, Troy city councilman. "This is a sad day for the city of Troy. It's a tragic loss and our prayers go out to the family. I'm crushed for them."

Reeves said the hostilities are winding down and things seemed to be okay.

"It's the last thing you thought you'd hear and suddenly you're shocked back into reality," he said. "This is still a dangerous situation. You can't forget that."

No one in Pike County will forget that now.

Flags all around the county are being flown at half-staff in memory and honor of Brown. Even flags at homes have been lowered

to honor a young man who gave his life in service to his county.

Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford said Johnny Brown was a courageous young man who wanted to do something important with his life.

"Johnny wanted to be in the military more than any young man I have ever known" Lunsford said. "When he got in the 101st Airborne, he was excited and proud. He was committed to being the best soldier that he could be. Knowing the kind of young man he was, I'm sure he was a great soldier."

Lunsford said any loss of life is tragic but when it's someone at home, it brings the war to your backdoor.

"We have lost a fine young man and the Army has lost a fine soldier," he said. "We will always remember Johnny Brown and the commitment he made and the sacrifice he gave. We will always honor him."

Lunsford expressed his sympathy and that of the entire community to the Brown family.

"Our thoughts and prayer are with them," he said.

The flags in the city of Troy will fly at half-staff in memory of Johnny Brown until after the after the burial service.