DEXTER  — U.S. Army Capt. Jay Brainard was mourned, honored and buried Saturday, three weeks after the helicopter he was piloting crashed while on patrol in Afghanistan.
About 350 family members, friends and military officials packed St. Anne’s Roman Catholic Church for his afternoon funeral, which began just after the sun emerged from a cloudy June sky.
The news media were not allowed inside the church for the service, but those who spoke about Brainard before and afterward said he will never be forgotten.
Maine Attorney General William Schneider, who represented Gov. Paul LePage at the funeral, said the service was touching.
“It was very, very dignified and appropriate,” he said. “It was a celebration of Captain Brainard’s life. It just seemed like he was a terrific guy and somebody I wish I’d known. He was a true son of Maine, growing up loving the woods and hunting and fishing.”
Brainard, 26, was a 2004 graduate of Foxcroft Academy in Dover-Foxcroft and a 2008 graduate of University of Maine, Orono, where he met his future wife, Emily Southwick. They were married in 2008.
He was assigned to the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade in Ansbach-Katterbach, Germany, supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He and another soldier who was in the helicopter died on Memorial Day in Wardac Province, Afghanistan, in a crash that remains under investigation. Initial reports indicate there was no enemy activity in the area at the time.
Schneider said Brainard’s uncle, Donald White, gave a wonderful speech at the service, describing how his nephew grew up and recalling the things he did as a child.
“It was really, really special,” Schneider said. “You got a good feeling for who Jay Brainard really was. His wife and he were a true team. They met in college, at UMO, and they got married and traveled the world together.”


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