Military Spouse Learns of Husband’s Death Through Facebook

A breakdown in military procedure compounds a tragedy for one military family

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Sergeant Christopher Brown, from Columbus, Ohio, was killed on April 3 by an insurgent bomb in Afghanistan, just a week into his fourth tour. But compounding the tragedy, says his widow, is the fact that she heard about the incident not through official military channels but via Facebook.

Ariell Taylor-Brown, who said she had been talking over Skype with her husband “literally hours before this happened” was at home, 11 weeks pregnant with the couple’s third child, when she received a message on Facebook from a woman in Brown’s platoon who said she should “call her immediately,” the Huffington Post reports.

(MORE: How Facebook Is Redefining Privacy)

She was then told on the phone of her husband’s death, while at home with her two children, rather than through the standard military procedure of being informed face to face by an Army messenger visiting her home. Said Taylor-Brown:

“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.”

Authorities at Fort Carson in Colorado, where her husband had been stationed, are investigating three service members who may have breached protocol and passed the message on using the social-networking site.

A Fort Carson spokesman, Master Sergeant Craig Zentkovich, suggested that those involved could face court-martial, according to local broadcaster KKTV. But he was unable to confirm whether the soldiers deployed alongside Brown were briefed on procedures concerning the death of a comrade.

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