Harrison Brown—Oct 2008 Shipment Honoree
Soldier from Prichard, Alabama, killed in IraqSource: Garry Mitchell – The Associated Press
More than 1,000 mourners filled the Nazaree Full Gospel Church in Mobile to bid farewell to Army Staff Sgt. Harrison “Duck” Brown, 31, who was killed April 8 in a bomb blast that hit his Humvee. Brown, assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, at Fort Benning, was on his third tour of duty in Iraq.
“This young man is a hero. He died as a hero and from what we’ve heard today, he lived as a hero,” said the Rev. Dr. Ralph Huling, pastor of St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Columbus, Ga., where Brown, his wife, Delisha, and three daughters — 9, 12 and 14 — worshipped.
A small musical ensemble played “When the Saints Go Marching In” as the 1,200-seat church in Mobile filled. A soloist sang “Amazing Grace.” The service swelled into a hand-clapping celebration of Brown’s life.
Among those exchanging upbeat memories of Brown before his flag-draped coffin was his uncle, Hezekiah Brown of Elizabeth City, N.C., who described his nephew as a “gentle giant who never wanted to hurt anybody.”
Others remembered how Brown influenced their lives with his admirable behavior.
Blount High School coach Ben Harris recalled Brown as a wide receiver on his team from 1991 until his graduation in 1994.
“He was a fine person all around,” Harris said.
Alvin Daniels, a former Blount classmate, said it’s a sad time, but Brown liked being in the Army.
“He was a good fellow, real quiet, laid-back,” Daniels said.
Brown also played on the school’s baseball and basketball teams before enrolling at Tuskegee University, where he played football for one year on a scholarship.
Brown left Tuskegee after his freshman year and enlisted in the Army to support his growing family.
Brig. Gen. William Forrester of Fort Rucker, Ala., represented the Army at the service, with an Honor Guard also from Rucker. Brown was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart.
Scores of veterans on motorcycles from the Patriot Guard escorted the funeral procession with police.
Prichard officials announced plans to name a street for Brow. Resolutions honoring Brown from the Alabama Legislature and the city of Mobile also were delivered to Brown’s family.
Burial was in the National Cemetery in Mobile.
FALLEN WARRIOR: Prichard soldier called a ‘gentle giant’
Source: Jane Self Special to The Tuscaloosa News
Blount High School’s head football coach said Army Staff Sgt. Harrison “Duck” Brown was an outstanding wide receiver when he was in school in the early 1990s. In 1992, his team won the state Class 5A high school football championship. When he graduated from Blount in 1994, Brown received a four-year scholarship to play football for Tuskegee.
But he left school after one season and joined the Army.
“He said he had to do it to take care of his children,” said Mary Dozier of Prichard, Brown’s sister. “I was upset about that. I wanted that degree.”
Brown later told his only sister – he also had three brothers – that he had three requests of her.
Because all the children of the family looked up to her, he wanted her to make sure his three daughters went to college so they could have choices in life. His two oldest daughters, Katrina and Alexya live in Prichard with their mother, and Dozier sees them every day. His youngest daughter, 9-year-old Kilani, lives in Columbus, Ga., with her mother, Delisha Brown.
He also asked Dozier to look after their mother, Chris Ann Brown, who lives near Dozier, and to stay in regular touch with Delisha Brown.
He was stationed in Hawaii at the time and just wanted to make sure his sister knew his priorities.
“We’re a real close family, anyway,” Dozier said. “Always have been. Duck and I would sit and talk all the time.”
Dozier said one of her brother’s coaches gave him the nickname “Duck” when he was in the ninth grade.
“They said he waddled like a duck when he ran,” Dozier said, admitting that she agreed. “He was bowlegged and had these big ole hands and feet. He looked like a duck.”
The nickname stuck, following Brown through high school, college and into the Army.
Brown had just returned for his third tour of duty in Iraq a few weeks before he was killed on Easter Sunday, April 8, in a bomb blast that hit his vehicle in Baghdad. He was with the 2nd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning.
Brown was posthumously awarded a Bronze Star for valor and a Purple Heart. On Sept. 22, the day Brown would have turned 32, Prichard officials will name a city street in his honor.
An uncle called Brown a “gentle giant” at his funeral, and many talked about what a good person he was.
One soldier he served with at Fort Benning said Brown was a quiet, dedicated man who put his soldiers’ needs before his own.
Dozier said her little brother was always a good kid. She was about 7 when he was born so she looked after him a lot.
“Duck always did what I told him to,” Dozier said. “He was no problem. Duck was always quiet, not like the others. Duck probably didn’t get more than four whippings his entire life.”
She said the whole neighborhood got excited when he came home on leave.
“It would be like a big block party. Everybody was so glad to see him,” she said. “He was such a great person to be around. He was such a joy. He was smooth talking. He’d be telling those kids something and they’d be listening. He always talked real soft, never talked loud. But he made his point.”
She said she tried to talk him out of re-enlisting in the Army, but he wouldn’t hear of it. He loved what he was doing. He told her not too many 30-year-old black men could say they’ve experienced what he had.
“He said, ‘I have traveled and seen this world, and if I had to do it over again, I’d do it again.’ I said, ‘aw shucks.’ He re-enlisted two days later,” Dozier said.
“When he was about to leave this last time, he told me it was perfect. Here he was going back to the war and saying it was perfect,” she said.
The day before he was killed, Brown was on the phone with his mother for nearly an hour, Dozier said.
“They were giggling and laughing for the longest time. He’d always call Mama,” she said.
Brown had also tried several times to reach his older brother who had a birthday on April 6 to wish him happy birthday. He never reached him, but left several messages.
“My brother has recorded them on a CD now,” Dozier said. “He kept saying ‘Hey, this is your little brother calling.’ Oh, I sure do miss him.”