The wife of a Fort Carson, Colo., staff sergeant killed in Afghanistan said she learned of his death when a soldier from his unit posted on her Facebook page that there was an emergency.
“I was told via Facebook,” said Ariell Taylor-Brown told a local NBC affiliate. “It was a girl in his platoon. She wrote to me and told me to call her immediately.”
The move short circuited the military’s solemn and sacrosanct casualty notification process and broke a staunchly defended taboo.
Taylor-Brown called her, and the soldier told her of the death. Taylor-Brown, who has two children and is pregnant with the couple’s third was at home alone with the kids.
“She told me over the phone, right in front of my kids and I completely had a meltdown. She wasn’t supposed to but I guess she took it on her own power to do it,” she said.
Hours later, two soldiers arrived at her home in Mobile, Ala., but she knew about it already. Protocol dictates the Army is the first to notify the family through messengers who come to the house.
Taylor-Brown said she did not fault the soldier at first.
“When she first told me I appreciated it because I wanted to know, but after it was all said and done, it was a horrible way,” Taylor-Brown said. “She didn’t even give me a chance. I could have been driving, anything. I could have harmed myself.”
Staff Sgt. Christopher L. Brown, 26, of Columbus, died April 3, in Kunar province from wounds sustained in a roadside bomb attack. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 12th Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division.
Brown was in his third deployment. His first was from Aug. 2004 to July 2005 in Iraq, and the second was from June 2009 to May 2010 to Afghanistan.
He was awarded, posthumously, a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.
Brown arrived in Afghanistan just one week before he was killed. The couple had hours earlier been talking on Skype, as they did every day, his wife said.
“I wasn’t expecting this. He was there a week,” she said. “I just hope they bring them home because I don’t want anybody to have to through losing their husband and their kids losing their dad like this.”
UPDATE: Army Times wants to know what you think. If one of your loved ones was a servicemember killed in action, would you want to learn the news through the casualty notification process, or from one of his or her close friends? If it is the latter, do you care if the contact was initiated through Facebook or other social media?
Thank you, in advance, for providing your thoughts.