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St. Pete’s Brittany Gordon, Killed In Afghanistan, Remembered In Ceremony On Her Home Base
Posted Nov 21, 2012 by Howard Altman
Updated Nov 21, 2012 at 03:55 PM
I couldn’t make it to Washington for the memorial service for Brittany Gordon, the St. Petersburg woman killed Oct. 13 in Afghanistan by a suicide bomber.
But the Defense Video & Imagery Distribution System, part of the Department of Defense, covered it. Here is their account:
Family, friends and service members gathered at the North Fort 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. Capt. Joshua Bal, the 572nd MI Company 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 couldn’t 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 Stephen Schwartz, Rear Detachment Commander for the 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd inf. Div., who spoke on behalf of Bal.
The mission that, ultimately, took Gordon’s 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, explained Chaplain (Capt.) Richard Rivers, 8-1 Cav. Chaplain, who served as Gordon’s 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.”
Gordon’s ambition, drive, and professionalism are what set her apart from her peers, said Schwartz.
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 what the security situation was around Kandahar.
“The brigade commander, Col. [Barry] Huggins, would stop in on a regular basis to talk issues concerning the city. He didn’t want to talk to me, he didn’t want to talk to any of the senior leadership; he wanted to talk to Brittany,” Wilson explained. “He wanted to hear what Brittany thought was going on in the city, what she thought the threat was. That’s 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 recently arrived to the unit, she stayed focused.
“Then we got downrange and it was like a switch was turned on in Brittany,” said Wilson.
Outside of her duties as team lead, a job typically held by a non-commissioned officer with years of experience in the career field, her truly caring and compassionate nature made people want to so quickly befriend her, said Spc. Cansas Wallace.
Gordon and Wallace were friends during one of the hardest times of Wallace’s 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 Brittany’s friends benefited from what they have learned from her,” said Wallace. “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 some ones day. Brittany has left a hand print on our hearts for eternity… There shall be a hello again after this goodbye.”
The last JBLM female killed in combat was Spc. Faith R. Hinkley, who was assigned to the 502nd Military Intelligence Battalion, 201st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade. She was killed in August 2010.
The last JBLM female killed in Afghanistan was 1st Lt. Laura M. Walker, who was assigned to the 864th Engineer Battalion, 555th Engineer Brigade, in August 2005.
Spc. Brittany B. Gordon was born Oct. 2, 1988, in St. Petersburg, Fla. In 2006, she graduated from St. Petersburg High School, where she was a valued player on the varsity basketball team. She attended the University of Florida and St. Petersburg College before joining the Army in January 2010 as 35F (Military Intelligence Analyst).
Gordon attended Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Huachuca, Ariz. Upon graduation, in August 2010, she was assigned to the 572nd Military Intelligence Company, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.
St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster recalled the impact she had made during high school, particularly on his daughter, Christine, who attended the same school as Gordon.
“Christine played junior varsity, and Brittany played varsity,” Foster said. “She was a great role model for my daughter… and for the city and the nation, too,” Foster recalled to The Tampa Tribune.
St. Petersburg High School retired Gordon’s basketball jersey, number 33, in hope it will serve as a reminder to young people about those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for America.
“They’ll know that she served her country and she represented the student athletes at St. Petersburg High School,” Bonnie Thompson, one of Gordon’s varsity basketball coaches at the school, told Tampa area news outlets.
Gordon’s military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with campaign star, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, NATO Medal and the Combat Action Badge.
Gordon is survived by her father, Cedric, mother, Brenda Thompson, sisters Cathy and Conchieta, and brother, Adrian.