Company B Says Goodbye To Fallen Soldier, Hero, and Friend
(April 27, 2011)
A photo of U.S. Army Sgt. Brent M. Maher, along with his boots, rifle and dog tags, is displayed at his memorial service on Combat Outpost Dand Patan April 18, 2011. Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. John P. Sklaney III
|PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan (4/18/2011) – A memorial service for U.S. Army Sgt. Brent M. Maher was held at Combat Outpost Dand Patan, Afghanistan, April 18.|
Maher, an infantryman from Honey Creek, Iowa, with Company B, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Lethal, was killed April 11 when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device.
The day began similar to how everyone from Company B was feeling: dreary, cold and wet. Rain fell and the wind blew heavily throughout the morning and most of the afternoon while preparations for the service were completed.
However, moments before the service began, the clouds lifted, the wind stopped and the sun began to shine on the small outpost in northern Paktya, in a way reflecting the bright attitude Maher always had.
Most people were a bit frightened when they met Maher initially; he was a tall, burly Iowan who looked as though he could lift a Buick.
Talking with him, a person soon found out his good nature was bigger than his stature.
“He was a very intimidating looking man,” said U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Zackary Richardson of Orient, Iowa, and Maher's squad leader. “Very quickly I realized that he was just a gentle giant, a big man with a big heart.”
|“I'm a little guy at 5-foot-7. So, to me, he was 8 feet tall and bulletproof,” said U.S. Army Pfc. Bryston Dunkeson of Farragut, Iowa, an intelligence analyst for Company B. “The first time I really interacted with him was on leave.”|
Dunkeson and Maher spent almost 40 days trying to get home and back to spend their 15-day rest and relaxation leave state-side February of this year. This gave Dunkeson a chance to get to know Maher.
“He'd go check on flights at night and early in the morning, hours before the rest of us would wake up, just so we didn't have to.
“He'd do anything for anybody,” said Dunkeson.
Likewise, Maher would often give the new guys a hard time. Teasing them about one thing or another was his way of ushering them into the family.
“He'd make them earn their stripes,” said Richardson.
Members of his company remember Maher as the guy to go to if they had a problem or needed some advice on something.
U.S. Army 1st Sgt. Christopher Casey of Neola, Iowa, the senior enlisted soldier of Company B, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, Task Force Lethal, renders a final salute to U.S. Army Sgt. Brent M. Maher an infantryman with Co. B, at a memorial ceremony on Combat Outpost Dand Patan, Afghanistan, April 18, 2011. Photo by U.S. Army Sgt. John P. Sklaney III
|“I always felt comfortable talking to him,” said U.S. Army Spc. Justin Christiansen of Nebraska City, Neb., who was in Maher's truck the day the IED detonated. “He wouldn't say anything to anyone else; it was like a friend talking to a friend with him.”|
“He truly cared about you,” said U.S. Army Spc. Joe Kintsler of Farragut, Iowa, and member of Maher's platoon. “It was natural for him to care about people.”
Maher often kept the mood around his platoon and his company as light as possible, either with a joke or with his infectious laughter.
“He was always the first to crack jokes,” said Kinstler. “Once he did it, everyone would realize things aren't so bad and joined in.”
|“He had a dry sense of humor,” remembers Christiansen. “He'd try to make jokes with a serious face then you'd see that big smile and you knew he was lying.”|
“He could draw a crowd,” said Kinstler. “You'd hear him laughing and go to find out why and pretty soon the whole platoon would be there having a good time before mission.”
Maher loved to hunt, to the point it was the vast majority of conversation for him. The only thing he cherished more was his family. Maher genuinely cared about his fellow man and serving his country.
Service awards Maher received throughout his military career include the Armed Forces Reserve Medal with "M" device, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with one Bronze Service Star, two Non-Article five NATO Medals with bronze service star and ISAF clasp, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, the Navy Good Conduct Medal, the Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Korean Service Medal, and the Combat Infantry Badge. Maher was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star Medal and promoted from specialist to sergeant.
The evening of his memorial ceremony, Maher's platoon launched a mortar illumination round signed by members of Company B into the night sky over Dand Patan as a final farewell.
By Army 1st Lt. Nicholas Rasmussen
2/34 Infantry Brigade Combat Team
Provided through DVIDS
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