January 5, 2011

Maine soldier killed in Afghanistan


Orginally published September 2, 2009

OAKLAND — Jordan Brochu was the type of guy who would jump in and help if you needed him.

He was the type of guy who could throw a discus well enough to qualify for the state track meet while a senior at Lake Region High School in Naples, and then surprise people with his cooking.

''He was involved in culinary arts, and he loved to bake, and he made us cookies for the team when we would have dinner,'' said Chuck Hamaty, Brochu's football coach in 2007.

Hamaty and others who knew Brochu at the school, which serves students from Bridgton, Naples, Casco and Sebago, were shocked and saddened to hear that the 20-year-old soldier was killed Monday in Afghanistan.

Brochu's family lives in Oakland. They could not be reached Tuesday for comment.

A private first class serving with Company C, 1-17th Infantry Battalion based in Fort Lewis, Wash., Brochu was only at the high school for his senior year, but made an impression on those who knew him.

''I feel terrible,'' Hamaty said. ''He was an outgoing kid. It is difficult to be a black kid at Lake Region, because there aren't too many there. But he was accepted by the kids and was certainly outgoing and made friends.''

Hamaty paused frequently when recalling Brochu's spirit and reflecting on the death of such a young soldier.

''I just feel sick,'' he said.

Brochu lived at Spurwink School when Hamaty coached him in football, he said. Spurwink is a nonprofit organization that provides behavioral health and educational and residential services for troubled children.

Brochu graduated from Lake Region in 2008.

He was dedicated to athletics, said track and field coach Chip Morton.

''I am very sad to hear about this,'' Morton said Tuesday night. ''I really, really liked Jordan. He was just a great kid.''

Morton also recalled Brochu's athleticism.

''In one season, he went from not knowing how to throw a discus to having the best form of anyone I ever coached and going to the state meet,'' Morton said. ''He was very dedicated and determined to succeed.

''It's hard to look at so short of a life as a success, but he lived life with a passion and he was loved by those who knew him. However short his life, I'd call that a success. May God bless him and hold him.''

Mark Snow, the high school's mathematics department chairman who also is an outdoor track and field coach, said Brochu bettered his discus mark to over 115 feet at the Western Maine Conference Meet last year. He also pitched in to help when the team was in a tight situation.

At the Sacopee Valley meet in May last year, the team picked Brochu as the Laker Star of the meet, Snow said.

''The team picks two boys and two girls each meet,'' he said. ''The team picked Jordan at this meet because he set a personal record in the shot put and discus and was willing to run a leg on our 4 x 100 (meter relay). He normally did not run it, but did on this day because we needed someone to. His discus throw also qualified him for the state meet.''

School Principal Roger Lowell said Brochu had been through some tough times in his life, but he was on track, involved at school and fit in well.

''To have a kid who goes through that and gets back into school and back on track and has a good senior year isn't all that common,'' Lowell said.

(Continued on page 2)

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