NEWPORT -- Capt. Jay Brainard, 26, died in Wardac Province, Afghanistan, as the result of a helicopter crash on Memorial Day, May 28, 2012. He had been assigned to the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, Ansbach-Katterbach, Germany, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He was born Sept. 1, 1985, in Waterville, the son of John and Susan (Bresnahan) Brainard. Since the age of 11, Jay has resided with his maternal aunt and uncle, Nancy and Donald White.
He attended Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft, where he played jazz trumpet, was a member of the swim team, played football with the 2003 champion football team, and graduated with honors with the class of 2004. He was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Army through the ROTC program at the University of Maine, Orono, May 9, 2008, and graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor's degree in political science, class of 2008. Jay was integral in expanding the ROTC program at Husson University in Bangor. He attended flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama. Jay served as a platoon leader and then brigade adjutant for 12th CAB before his first deployment April 30 as an Apache helicopter pilot in Afghanistan.
He married the former Emily Southwick on Dec. 22, 2008. They both shared the same birthday and had attended UMaine together. Jay loved serving in the Army. Emily says that he was very career-minded and "bled green." He was a strong leader and believed his most important job was helping other soldiers. He also enjoyed camping, hiking, biking, canoeing, running, and reading historical books, as well as traveling with Emily.
In addition to his wife, currently living in Germany, and originally from Standish, he is survived by his parents, John Brainard II, Susan Phelps and stepfather Ray Phelps, all of Newport; a half brother, Ben Hawthorne, of Newport; half sisters, Brittany and Amanda Brainard, of Newport; maternal grandmother, Louise Bresnahan, of Atkinson; paternal grandparents, John Brainard Sr. and wife Misa Brainard, of Clarksville; and special aunt and uncle, Nancy and Donald White, of Atkinson; mother- and father-in-law, Linda and Steve Southwick of Standish; as well as other aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his grandfather, Leonard Bresnahan.
Friends may call from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, June 15, at Crosby & Neal, 117 Main St., Newport. Military funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 16, at St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church, 64 Free St., Dexter, with the Rev. Father Paul Murray officiating. Military committal services will be held at Sawyer Cemetery, Plymouth, following the services. Memorial donations may be made to the Brainard Memorial Fund, c/o Crosby & Neal, 117 Main St., Newport, ME 04953. Those who wish may leave written condolences at www.CrosbyNeal.com.