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.