SKOWHEGAN — Jay Brainard’s wife, Emily, said Thursday that her husband was a professional soldier who prided himself on his leadership role in the military.

“He made taking care of soldiers and families his number one priority and I know he touched countless lives,” she said. “He was lucky to be able to follow his dream to become an officer. Jay was my best friend, the love of my life, and my hero.”

John R. “Jay” Brainard, 26, of Newport, a captain in the U.S. Army, was killed Monday when the AH-64 helicopter he was piloting crashed near Kabul, Afghanistan.

His wife, in an interview using Facebook Thursday morning, said she was returning to Germany where her husband was stationed and where she is a kindergarten classroom aid.

She had flown to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to meet her husband’s body, according to family member Donald White, of Atkinson. She was also to meet with Jay’s Brainard’s father John Brainard II, he said.

White, with his wife, Nancy, raised Jay from age 11 until he graduated from Foxcroft Academy in 2004. White said funeral arraignments will be announced next week.

“He was an amazing person and I am thankful for the almost seven years we had with each other,” Emily Brainard said. “He helped make me the person I am today. We made so many amazing memories together and loved each other more than most people do in a long lifetime.

“It is my hope that his memory and accomplishments are never forgotten.”

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Doug Harlow can be contacted at 612-2367 or at:

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