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Marianna Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Copter Crash

By: Bryan Anderson
By: Bryan Anderson

Marianna, FL- As more details continue to emerge from last weekend's deadly U.S. helicopter crash in Afghanistan, dozens of families are mourning the loss of their loved ones.

30 U.S. troops, including pararescue airman John Brown, were flying near the Afghan capital on Saturday when a Taliban rocket-propelled grenade struck the aircraft. It's the deadliest single attack on U.S. forces since the war began.

"It was devastating. It was like losing a son," said Marianna resident Nancy Arunakul.

Arunakul could barely talk on Tuesday about her son's best friend without breaking down into tears.

"John was a brother and he's (Kiet) having a hard time coping," said Arunakul.

Her son Kiet said he had an instant connection with John.

"Once we started hanging around each other, we just became really good friends. While we were in Marianna working, just got to be really really really close friends," said Kiet.

John had moved from Arkansas to follow in his Uncle's footsteps in the medical field. Kiet said the two were inseparable, spending pretty much every day together.

"It's just kind of a bond or a relationship you don't find everyday, maybe even a once in a lifetime relationship you have with another person," said Kiet.

They eventually moved to Tallahassee to attend Florida State University, and that's when Kiet said John decided he was meant for the military.

"He was also a very active guy, very outdoorsy guy, loved doing things outside, was adventurous," said Kiet.

Kiet said John couldn't have been happier giving back to his country.

"He was extremely passionate about what he did. He liked serving in the military. He was very proud of what he did," said Kiet.

Kiet is now left wondering how he'll pay tribute to his best friend, who was also supposed to be his best man in February.

"Not sure quite exactly what we'll do to honor him, but we'll definitely do a moment of silence, reserving a spot at the head table," said Kiet.

The U.S. Air Force will be flying John's immediate family and Kiet out to Virginia tomorrow, where they'll meet with other families to honor the fallen heroes with a special ceremony.

John leaves behind his wife, his mother, father, and two younger brothers.


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