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Family, friends and service members gathered at the Lewis North Chapel Nov. 14, to remember the life of 24-year-old Spc. Brittany B. Gordon, a St. Petersburg, Fla., native, who was killed Oct. 13, in Kandahar Province, when her unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device.
Gordon, the lead military analyst in Kandahar City, was assigned to the 572nd Military Intelligence Company, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. She was providing intelligence support for International Security Assistance Force and Afghan National Directorate of Security forces at the time of her death. Captain Joshua Bal, the 572nd MI Co. commander, recalled the photos a fellow Soldier had taken of Gordon hours before the attack.
I was able to see several pictures he took while they were en route to (Village Stability Platform) Garang. As expected, she was all smiles. I couldnt think of a more fitting, final image to capture the essence and the spirit of one of the finest Soldiers I have ever known, said Capt. Stephen Schwartz, rear detachment commander of the 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Bde., 2nd Inf. Div., who spoke on behalf of Bal.
The mission that, ultimately, took Gordons life was one she had volunteered for, as a way to set the example for junior Soldiers in her section about the proper way to conduct themselves during operations outside of the wire, said Chaplain (Capt.) Richard Rivers, 8-1 Cav. chaplain, who served as Gordons chaplain downrange.
In the year that I knew her, there are many words that come to mind when describing her; driven, dedicated, selfless, charismatic, leader, read Schwartz. These words defined who she was in life, in the years before she joined the Army and afterward.
Gordons ambition, drive, and professionalism are what set her apart from her peers, Schwartz said.
A true testament to how valued her intelligence skills were, Chief Warrant Officer 3 Timothy Wilson told of how commanders would come into the office and want to speak directly to Gordon about the security situation around Kandahar.
The brigade commander, Col. (Barry) Huggins, would stop in on a regular basis to talk issues concerning the city. He didnt want to talk to me, he didnt want to talk to any of the senior leadership; he wanted to talk to Brittany, Wilson said. He wanted to hear what Brittany thought was going on in the city, what she thought the threat was. Thats the kind of Soldier Brittany was, smart, instinctual, curious and most of all dedicated to the mission of ensuring her fellow Soldiers had the best intelligence out there.
Prior to deploying, Wilson said Gordon, and other intelligence specialists, would spend countless hours studying the area they were going to; preparing briefs, learning the terrain, demographics and the dangers the Soldiers would face there. Although intimidating for the young Soldier who had just arrived at the unit, she stayed focused.
Then we got downrange and it was like a switch was turned on in Brittany, Wilson said.
Outside of her duties as team lead, a job typically held by an NCO with years of experience in the career field, her truly caring and compassionate nature made people want to quickly befriend her, Spc. Cansas Wallace said. Gordon and Wallace were friends during one of the hardest times of Wallaces life the birth of her child. When she felt her lowest, it was Gordon who was there to tell her how beautiful she was, Wallace recalled, choking back tears.
So many of Brittanys friends benefited from what they have learned from her, Wallace said. I learned to love myself no matter what and never give up hope. I learned the ability to find the good in any situation and that all it takes is a smile to brighten someones day. Brittany has left a handprint on our hearts for eternity ... There shall be a hello again after this goodbye.
The last JBLM female killed in action in Afghanistan was in August 2005.