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Spc. Brandon Rowe
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Army Spc. Brandon J. Rowe, 20, of Roscoe, Ill.; assigned to C Company, 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.; killed in action March 31, 2003, by enemy artillery in Ayyub, Iraq.

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Spc. Brandon Rowe Memorial Book

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Soldier Memorial
Illinois
23 Weekend News, August 2004

Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich says the state honors the men and women for their bravery.

Since Sept. 11, 2002, 52 Illinois active duty guard and reserve service members have died in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The memorial is a bronze plaque that includes the name of each service members from Illinois killed.

One of the 52 names on the hero’s plaque is Brandon Rowe. Brandon graduated from Hononegah in 2000. Within the year he was off to join the United States Army. By March 3 2003 Brandon was deployed.

It was on his mission with the 101st Airborne Division that he became a casualty of war. He died on March 31, 2003 fighting in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Rowe was struck by enemy fire under his arm where he wasn't protected by armor.

The memorial will remain on display at the Senior Center on the fairgrounds in Springfield through Aug. 22. Starting Aug. 23, the memorial will be temporarily displayed at the State Capitol Rotunda before moving to its permanent home at the Illinois State Military Museum.

20-year-old Roscoe resident became the Rock River Valleys first death in the war against Iraq.

Army Spc. Brandon Rowe was killed Monday in an ambush near the Iraqi city of Najaf, his family said Tuesday. Rowe is the first person from the 101st Airborne Division to die in combat in the Iraq war.

A soldier came to the house Monday evening to notify the family of his death. A bullet entered underneath Rowes arm where armor could not protect him, said his mother, Wendy Borowski.

A flag flew at half-staff outside the familys home in the Ledges subdivision. A row of vehicles lined the familys driveway. Brent Rowe, 25, of Chicago talked briefly with the media Tuesday on the familys porch about his brother.

He said Brandon was the youngest of four siblings. Brandon Rowe was a 2000 graduate of Hononegah High School in Rockton, and he enlisted in the military shortly after graduation. Brent Rowe was not certain when his brothers body would be returned to the United States.

A neighbor took the news of Brandon Rowes death hard. "Im very angry right now," said Kim Fields. "It was so senseless. All of their children have baby-sat for me. They are just very nice kids, and Brandon was very proud of what he was doing."

Josh Weidman, 21, attended Hononegah with Rowe. He described Rowe as his best friend when they attended elementary school.

Weidman remembered playing Army and with GI Joes. Weidman was not surprised to learn that his friend joined the military after high school.

"When they were growing up, Rowe was one of the funniest kids I ever met," Weidman said. He recalled an incident in second grade when Rowe made him laugh so hard that he fell off the lunch table.

"I dont remember what it was. ... He was making me laugh, I leaned back, and there was no back on the lunch table. I grabbed onto him and took him down with me."

Weidman heard of his friends death on Monday. He and his father went through old photographs of the two buddies. There was one at Chuck E Cheeses, at a birthday for Weidman.

"I just remember that we were really hot and sweaty from running around. His cheeks were always red. He was one of my favorite friends."

Register Star staff Mike Wiser, Melissa Birks and Antionette Taylor-Thomas and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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U.S. Army honor guard members Michael Bennett (L) and Michael Scheffield salute the casket of Specialist Brandon Rowe at Hononegah Community high school in Rockton, Illinois, April 12, 2003. Rowe was the first combat casulty from the 101st Airborne division to die in the war against Iraq. REUTERS/Frank Polich