Age: 33

Rank: A U.S. Army specialist attached to the 41st Field Artillery Regiment stationed in Fort Steward, Calif. He served in the Army for more than three years, loading tanks and delivering artillery, before being sent to Iraq.

Marital status: Married with a 10-year-old son

Ties to Maine: He grew up in Lewiston and was a member of the American Legion Post 31 in New Auburn. His mother, Nancy Cunningham, lives in Lewiston, and two of his brothers live in Auburn.

Details of his death: On April 4, a tank that he was riding in hit a ravine and flipped into the water. The vehicle was swerving to avoid artillery fire.

Daniel Cunningham joined the Army because it was a good way to get benefits for his son, Connor, who lives with his mother in Revere, Mass. He was also inspired by his late father, who had served in Vietnam.

“He was great,” said his brother, James Cunningham. “Every joke I tell is from him, I can tell you that. He’s just real witty, always on top of things. He’s the type of guy you want to be around.”

In a letter dated March 8, Cunningham told his mother that he wanted Pepsi, baby wipes and cigarettes. He joked about the heat, the bugs and the lizards and he told her that he had enough sand in this ears to build a palace.

After his brother’s death, James Cunningham told the Sun Journal, “You see this stuff on TV, you don’t think it’s going to come right into your living room. It’s a nightmare.”

Jay Thomas Aubin

Age: 36

Rank: A U.S. Marine stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona. He was promoted posthumously to the rank of major.

Personal: Married with a 10-year-old daughter and a 7-year-old son.

Ties to Maine: He grew up in Skowhegan and attended the University of Southern Maine in Portland before enlisting for a second stint in the Marines. His mother, Nancy Chamberlain, lives in Winslow. His brother, Jeffrey, lives in Pittsfield, and other relatives live in the Waterville area.

Details of his death: Aubin was among 12 people killed on March 21 when their CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter crashed and burned in the Kuwait desert, about nine miles from the Iraqi border. It was the first helicopter that crashed in the war, killing 12 U.S. and British Marines.


When Jay Aubin left for Kuwait, he told his mother to remember that he was going to do something that he believed in.

After learning of her son’s death, Nancy Chamberlain spoke on national television to NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw.

He asked if she could explain why she was willing to speak so publicly.

“I truly admire what all of the network news and all the new technology is doing today to bring (the war) into our homes,” she said. “But for the mothers and the wives who are out there watching, it is murder. It’s heartbreak. We can’t leave the television. Every tank, every helicopter, (we think) is that my son? And I just need you to be aware that technology is great. But there are moms, there are dads, there are wives out there that are suffering because of this.”

Brian Matthew Kennedy

Age: 25

Rank: A corporal stationed at Camp Pendleton, a Marine base in Southern California.

Personal: Single

Ties to Maine: His mother, Melissa Derbyshire, lives in Port Clyde.

Details of his death: He was the crew chief and mechanic on the same military helicopter carrying Jay Aubin.

On March 21, three Marines showed up at Melissa and John Derbyshire’s house overlooking Port Clyde Harbor to tell them that Melissa’s son, Brian Kennedy, was killed in a helicopter crash.

The next day, Melissa Derbyshire told an Associated Press reporter that she felt lucky to have known him for 25 years and she should would always remember him laughing and having a good time.

“And now, he’s fine,” she said. “He’s OK right now. We’re the ones who have to adjust.”

Cedric E. Bruns

Age: 22

Rank: A lance corporal attached to the Marine’s 6th Engineer Support Battalion, based in Eugene, Ore.

Personal: He had been dating a girl for seven months.

Ties to Maine: His grandparents live in Bangor.

Details of his death: He died May 9 when the pickup truck he was driving collided with a logistics support vehicle, similar to a flatbed truck. Bruns was a combat engineer in a unit trained to do demolition and construction.

Cedric Bruns wrote dozens of letters to his family and friends while he was in Kuwait. He wrote about filling sandbags and building bunkers to hide from Scud missile attacks. He also wrote about his plans for when he got home. He wanted to go to college, buy a house and dig into his family history.

Bruns graduated from Prairie High School in Vancouver, Wash., in 2000. He enjoyed camping trips, drove a 1977 Buick Electra, and once had a pet duck. His last call home was on Mother’s Day.

Christopher D. Coffin

Age: 51

Rank: A first sergeant attached to the Army’s 352nd Civil Affairs Command, based in Maryland.

Marital status: Married, no children

Ties to Maine: Coffin moved to Kennebunk 15 years ago with his wife, Betsy. He worked as a reserve police officer in Kennebunk and a civilian police officer at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Details of his death: Coffin was assisting convoys traveling between Baghdad and Kuwait on July 1 when he was involved in some type of accident.

The Army initially told his family that he died when his vehicle ran into a ditch while trying to avoid a civilian vehicle. But the family asked for an investigation into the incident after news reports based on an Army statement indicated a member of the same unit died after a rocket-propelled grenade hit the truck. The Army’s internal investigation is not complete.

A veteran soldier who also served in Kosovo, Coffin attempted to retire last year after making a commitment to his wife that they would spend their older years without her having to worry about his safety. Coffin’s retirement request was denied because of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

While in Kuwait and Iraq, he often spoke to his fellow soldiers about his wife and showed them pictures of their dog, Samantha.

“He was a damn good soldier, an outstanding sergeant, my best friend and a completely devoted and adoring husband,” said his brother, Tom, at a memorial service in Pennsylvania.


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