Jack Bryant, Jr. – Sergeant, United States Army

NEWS RELEASE from the United States Department of Defense

No. 1199-04
November 22, 2004

DoD Identifies Army Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sergeant Jack Bryant Jr., 23, of Dale City, Virginia, died November 20, 2004, in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military convoy followed by an enemy rocket-propelled grenade attack.  Bryant was assigned to the 3rd Brigade Fire Support Team (1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Infantry Division), Vilseck, Germany.

A 23-year-old who married his high school sweetheart was killed by improvised explosive device Saturday in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, according to the Department of Defense.

Sergeant Jack Bryant Jr., a member of the 3rd Brigade Fire Support Team and Dale City native, made daily runs to drop off food and supplies to remote offensive camps, said his father, Jack Bryant.


When Bryant Jr. was making a convoy run 70 miles northeast of Baghdad on Saturday, an improvised explosive device detonated and was followed by an enemy rocket propelled grenade attack, according to a Department of Defense release.

“Words cannot describe the situation,” his father said. “For us it is a very numbing thing, but we have the blessing of his memory.”

Bryant Jr. was killed two days after he returned from a two-week visit to his wife Kiona, 22, and their two-year-old son, who live in Germany.

They toured Paris and had an early Thanksgiving dinner, Bryant said.

Funeral arrangements would be made when his son arrives in the country, he said.

The service will be held at Star of Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church, said his father, an associate minister there.

Bryant Jr. was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Infantry Division and was stationed in Vilseck, Germany.

He is one of three Virginia servicemen killed in Iraq over the weekend.

Marine Corporal Bradley Thomas Arms, 20, of Charlottesville, and fellow Marine Lance Corporal Demarkus D. Brown, 22, of Martinsville, died as the result of enemy action Friday in Al Anbar Province, which includes Fallujah, according to the Pentagon.

The Rev. Charles Ervin from Star of Bethlehem said he would remember Bryant Jr., or “Little Jack” as a kid who was bothered by nothing — “regardless of what was happening, he always had a smile on his face.”

Ervin said the 23-year-old was active in the church's youth choir and in Bible study groups before he joined the military in 2000.

Like her husband, Kiona Bryant graduated from Hylton High School. They were married the same month she graduated.

“He loved the Lord Jesus and if anything were to happen to him, he knew where he would end up, which is in heaven,” Ervin said. “Not often these days do you find a young man like Jack. He's respectable and tried to do the right thing by everybody.”

Bryant Jr., whom family members called “Jay” was always one to crack a joke, they said.

He was outgoing, talkative and wrote songs that he would rap for his friends and family.

“Little Jack” also had a knack for free styling, a method of rapping unrehearsed, coherent rhymes.

He had pet names for everyone, said his father, whom “Jay” would call and ask, “what's up, old man?” Bryant recalled with a laugh.

Bryant said his son's death is painful, but their religion helps them cope.

“If we didn't have our faith, if we didn't have our relationship with Jesus Christ, I don't know how we would deal with it,” Bryant said. “Hearing the news was paralyzing.”

He said his son is in heaven and that comforts his wife and their two daughters, Jennifer, 20, and Denie, 28.

“I have a vision of Jay telling his corn ball jokes to Jesus,” his father said.

Bryant is the third service member from Prince William County killed in Iraq.

Army Captain Humayun S.M. Khan, 27, was killed in Baqouba, in June, after a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into the gate he was guarding at a military base there. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in late June.

Marine Lance Corporal Brian Medina, 26, of Dale City, was ambushed and shot dead in house-to-house fighting in Fallujah on November 12, 2004. He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday.

And Sergeant Morgan Strader, the 23-year-old son of a Montclair woman was killed-in-action in Fallujah on November 12. Strader lived in Indiana and Crossville, Tenn.

Funeral Wednesday for Dale City soldier
Lillian Kafka
Courtesy of the Potomac News
Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The funeral for Sgt. Jack Bryant Jr., the 23-year-old soldier from Dale City who died last week in Iraq, will be held Wednesday.

A public viewing begins at 11:30 a.m. at the Star of Bethlehem Church, 19068 Bethlehem Church Road, Triangle, and continues until the funeral service begins at 1 p.m. at the same location, according to his family.

Bryant died November 20, 2004, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy in Muqdadiyah.

Bryant will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery at 10 a.m. Thursday, said Jack Bryant Sr.

Family and friends who wish to attend need to arrive at the administration building there by 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Before he joined the Army, Bryant married his high school sweetheart Kiona.

They had a son, whose name is on a trust fund that the family has established in case anyone would like to make a donation.

Deposits can be made at any Bank of America to Keshawn J. Bryant UTMA to account number 0041 3200 4909.

Prince William soldier laid to rest
Courtesy of the Potomac News
Friday, December 3, 2004

Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery, a wide field between the Pentagon and thousands of headstones from other wars, became the final resting place Thursday for the third Prince William County man killed in combat.

They are among 98 service members killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom — nearly 10 percent of the war's dead — who are buried at that cemetery.

Army Sergeant Jack Bryant Jr., of Dale City, was laid to rest in a new row of graves Thursday. His plot is only three to the right of Sergeant Brian Medina, a Dale City Marine killed in Fallujah and buried last week.

Bryant — a 23-year-old member of the 3rd Brigade Fire Support Team — was killed by an improvised explosive device in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, when his convoy came under the attack of insurgents last month.

The insurgents launched a rocket-propelled grenade attack immediately after the device detonated.

Bryant made daily trips to bring food and supplies to remote offensive camps, according to his father Jack Bryant Sr.

Section 60 was quiet at 10 a.m. as roughly 50 mourners gathered behind the hearse and a team of soldiers carried Bryant's casket to his final resting place. Moments later the mourners gathered around Bryant's grave site, only 15 plots from Army Captain Humayan S.M. Khan.

Khan, of Bristow, was killed in Baqouba in June.

Sniffles from crying friends and relatives were drowned out when a firing party launched a three-round-volley in honor of Bryant.

Master Sergeant Tammy Leverone played “Taps” on a bugle as an airliner flew low overhead.

Lieutenant General Larry J. Dodgen, Commander of the U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command, presented Bryant's wife, and high-school sweetheart Kiona, with a flag. Dodgen then presented another to Bryant's parents, Jack and Linda Bryant.

Dodgen presented Kiona with a Bronze Star and Purple Heart before taking her arm and escorting her from the burial site at the service's end.

Bryant was killed two days after returning from a two-week leave, during which he visited Kiona, 22, and the couple's 2-year-old son, at the family's home in Germany. They went to Paris and celebrated Thanksgiving early.

2 Very Different Men, Bound Now at Arlington
By Rebecca Dana
Courtesy of the Washington Post
Friday, December 3, 2004

The medals and the American flag were almost too much for Kiona Bryant to hold as she sat yesterday at the grave of her high school sweetheart.

So she bundled them together, the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star and the flag that once draped the coffin of her husband, Jack, and turned her head away from the scene.

One by one, the soldiers who conducted the service touched her arm, whispered condolences and marched off across an open field at Arlington National Cemetery.

It was a scene that would be repeated later in the day. Bryant's husband was one of two soldiers killed in Iraq who were laid to rest yesterday in the cemetery, hours apart, in nearby graves.

Army Sergeant Jack “Jay” Bryant Jr., 23, died November 20, 2004, in Muqdadiyah, Iraq, about 60 miles north of Baghdad, when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military convoy, followed by a rocket-propelled grenade attack. Bryant, of Dale City, Virginia, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, based in Vilseck, Germany.

Lance Corporal Dimitrios Gavriel, 29, a native of Haverhill, Massachusetts, was killed a day earlier a result of enemy action in the Anbar province. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

The men were the 98th and 99th service members killed in Iraq to be buried at Arlington. The long, slow sound of taps rang out for both men on the crisp, clear day.

Bryant had begged his parents not to worry when he was deployed to Iraq and promised them he would be fine. “He would often tell us that he's immortal,” his father, Jack Bryant Sr., said in an interview shortly after his son's death.

Just before he was killed, Bryant had a two-week leave in Germany with his wife and their toddler son, Keshawn James. Together, they celebrated an early Thanksgiving, far from their home in Dale City, and far from the uncertain battlefields of Iraq. They took a seven-day tour of Paris, and then Bryant returned to combat.

Bryant graduated from Hylton High School just over five years ago and went straight into the Army with dreams of seeing the world — which he did — and taking some time off before coming home for college. Recently, he had taken some computer science courses through the University of Maryland.

Endlessly optimistic, quick with a smile or a joke, Bryant's real passion was music, his father said. He sang in the choir at Star Bethlehem Missionary Baptist Church in Triangle, where his father is an associate minister. Shortly before his death, Bryant had taken to writing rap songs.

At 10 a.m. yesterday, the soldier's friends and family gathered around his grave. There, before burying his son, Jack Bryant Sr. somberly received an American flag from Lieutenant General Larry J. Dodgen, Commanding General of the Army Space and Missile Defense Command. Kiona Bryant accepted one as well, along with her husband's medals.

An Army firing party fired into the air a final salute of three shots, sharp and quick.

Three hours later, Gavriel's family and friends arrived, as did Massachusetts Sens. Edward M. Kennedy (D) and John F. Kerry (D), both of whom carried small yellow flower arrangements to place on the casket. Gavriel's mother accepted a flag from Staff Sergeant Charles Dorsey of the Marine Corps Barracks in Washington. A Greek Orthodox chaplain, the Rev. Father Nicholas Manousalas, finished the ceremony.

Two weeks before his death, Gavriel told reporters he was “locked, cocked and ready to rock,” the Boston Globe reported.

Like Bryant, Gavriel had a thing for rhymes.

The high school wrestling champion and former Wall Street analyst, began keeping a journal of poems and thoughts after he graduated from Brown University in 1997, which his parents, Chris and Penelope, found only recently, according to media reports. In one piece, published in the Boston Herald shortly before his funeral in Haverhill, he wrote:

And then there are the dreamers
Who see beyond the shroud
Distinct are they among us
They shuffle through the crowd
Hope lives among so few
Yet strong it is I know
For I am still a dreamer
Along the track I go

After he died, friends and family remembered Gavriel as an idealist, a 270-pound giant of a man who quit a high-profile job in finance to do what he believed was right, according to accounts in the Massachusetts newspapers. On September 11, 2001, during the moments before the attacks on the World Trade Center, Gavriel had been on the phone with a friend working in one of the towers, according to the news stories. That made it clear: He would go to Iraq.

What became clear only later, on two, dark November days, was how he and Bryant would come home.

So yesterday two families paused, at different times and in different ways, on the same small patch of grass at Arlington. They said prayers and stood in silence. And they honored two very different men, a pair of dreamers.


  • VETERAN SERVICE DATES: 07/27/1999 – 11/20/2004
  • DATE OF BIRTH: 03/13/1981
  • DATE OF DEATH: 11/20/2004
  • DATE OF INTERMENT: 12/02/2004

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