Brett Thomas Christian
Sergeant, United States Army
Jul 23, 2003
DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today that Sergeant (posthumous promotion) Brett T. Christian, 27, North Royalton, Ohio, was killed on July 23, 2003, in Mosul, Iraq. Christian was in a convoy that came under attack by rocket propelled grenades.
Christian was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 502nd
Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
Type of Casualty (Death, VSI, Special Interest,
POW, DUSTWUN, etc.): DEATH
Name: CHRISTIAN, Brett Thomas
At night in Iraq, Army Sergeant Brett T. Christian often slept on top of his truck to catch a bit of welcome breeze after desert days of 120-degree heat. By day, his job driving a 21/2-ton diesel carrier was both grueling and dangerous in a land where opposition to the U.S. presence is expressed in attacks on military convoys.
On the morning of July 23, a roadside bomb detonated just as Christian's vehicle passed, killing the 27-year-old from Ohio, his squad leader recalled. Services were conducted for Christian yesterday at Arlington National Cemetery, where 25 combatants from Operation Iraqi Freedom now rest.
Under a spitting rain, the now-familiar rituals -- the crisp salutes, the bugler sounding taps, the presentation of a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, the rifle volley into the air -- paid Christian his final tribute. Earlier, services were held at a military camp in Mosul, the northern Iraqi town where he was killed, and at a church near Cleveland.
Theresa "Tess" Christian recalled her son's loyalty and humor and said he focused on accomplishing his duties. Christian, the oldest of three brothers and a high school wrestler and lacrosse player, joined the Army to pay for college, said his brother Derek Salustro, 21. He was promoted to Sergeant shortly before his death, his military superiors said.
Sergeant Shane Harris, 29, his squad leader, said it was hard for Christian to talk about the things that mattered most: his family and friends and his dream of becoming a restaurateur.
Before they deployed to the Middle East, Harris said, many members of the unit were thinking, "These are people I'm going to have to rely on for my life."
Once the group got to Iraq, Harris said, he learned to read Christian's every move.
"You find out that you can communicate with people over there without saying anything," Harris said. "You can read each other and know what they're thinking. It's like being married."
Harris relied on Christian as one of his most dependable drivers, able to log 20-hour days moving soldiers, loads of ammunition, thousands of gallons of fuel and pallets of bottled water and Meals Ready to Eat, or MREs.
No matter how serious the task, Christian made people laugh, agreed those who knew him from childhood as well as those who had met him recently.
"You couldn't be sad around him," Salustro said. "He was a funny guy."
In Iraq, he made others smile with such antics as cutting his dark hair with clippers and a mirror in the cab of his truck, and making coffee by heating a 1.5-liter water bottle on the roof of his truck and dumping in hoarded instant-coffee rations.
July 23 seemed like a typical day in Mosul for the 2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, even when its leader, Harris, heard an explosion west of town. He thought initially that it was U.S. soldiers setting off Iraqi ordnance they'd found.
Then he heard on his radio that Christian's truck had been hit. Of the 22 soldiers aboard, Christian was the only fatality.
"I feel very sad," Harris said yesterday.
The Army selected him to escort Christian's body home. On a C-130 Hercules from Mosul to Kuwait, and then on a Boeing 747 cargo hauler from Kuwait to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, he kept watch over the military-issue transport coffin. The remains of two other soldiers also were on board the second plane.
Tess Christian said she will miss looking into her son's deep-blue eyes and hearing him laugh.
In farewell, she knelt by his coffin and pressed
her lips to the wood.
Christian, 27, of North Royalton, Ohio was killed in action near Mosul, Iraq when the convoy he was travelling in was ambushed with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms fire. Seven others were wounded in the attack. Christian was attached to Company C, 2nd Battalion of the 502nd Infantry, 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell Kentucky.
A light rain fell as a U.S. Army casket team folded the flag that had covered Christian's casket. The 21 shots from the firing party pierced the solemn quiet of the ceremony. A young girl shook as the shots were fired. Grim-faced soldiers saluted their fallen comrade as "Taps" played out across the lush green grass and the neat rows of white headstones.
The tightly folded flag was presented to soldier's mother, Teri Christian, by Lieutenant General Dan K. McNeil, commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, along with his purple heart and his bronze star. After the ceremony had ended and most of the attendees had left, his mother, two brothers, grandparents and other relatives stayed briefly, kneeling at his casket for one last goodbye.
Division Command Sergeant Major Marvin Hill, in an e-mail to the Clarksville, Tennessee Leaf-Chronicle, said of the deaths of Christian and two other soldiers, "Our soldiers have given their lives for a cause. It is that cause that keeps their brothers in arms committed."
Division soldiers, Sergeants Jason D. Jordan, 24, of Elba, Alabama, and Justin W. Garvey, 23, of Townsend, Massachusetts, were killed Sunday in an attack near Mosul, according to the newspaper.
There have been 298 deaths of coalition troops
in the Iraq war, with 55 U.S. troops killed as a result of hostile fire
since May 1, when President Bush announced major combat operations were
over in Iraq.
WASHINGTON -- An Ohio soldier was killed in Iraq on Wednesday, the Department of Defense announced Wednesday.
Army Specialist Brett T. Christian, of North Royalton, Ohio, was killed in Mosul when his convoy came under attack by rocket-propelled grenades. He is one of at least eight Ohio soliders killed in Iraq since the war started.
He is one of at least eight Ohio soldiers killed in Iraq since the war started March 19, 2003.
Christian's brother, Derek, told NewsChannel 5 that Christian was a trained sniper who was recently promoted to Sergeant.
Derek said that he was considering joining, but Christian told him that if anything happened to him while in Iraq that he should not enlist. He was concerned that their mother would have to experience more pain.
Christian's grandmother, Priscilla Cinadr, said her grandson wanted to be a veterinarian.
Christian was assigned to Company C in the
2nd Battalion, 502nd Infantry, 101st Airborne Division. He was stationed
at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.
BROADVIEW HEIGHTS, Ohio -- Family and friends gathered in Broadview Heights Saturday to mourn the loss of Army Specialist Brett Christian, who was killed in Iraq on July.
Christian's fellow soldiers also attended the memorial service at Cuyahoga Valley Community Church. They described the 27-year-old from North Royalton as a leader who once helped guide them back to Kuwait after their expedition got lost.
Eileen Christian said her grandson was extremely bright and had a wonderful sense of humor.
The Christians moved to the Cleveland area from Long Island, New York, 13 years ago.
Christian was killed while driving a troop truck that was blown up in an ambush. He was posthumously promoted to Sergeant.
He will be buried this week at Arlington National
CHRISTIAN, BRETT THOMAS
Posted: 6 August 2003 Updated: 9 August 2003 Updated: 3 May 2004 Updated: 27 August 2004 Updated: 11 February 2006 Updated: 15 April 2008 Updated: 24 April 2008
Updated: 1 May 2009 Updated: 12 May 2008
Photo By M. R. Patterson, May 2008
Photos Courtesy of Holly, May 2008
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 22 April 2004