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Sunday, January 28, 2007


At 5:14 in the evening on Friday, Jan. 19, Donna Brown was at home in Little Rock when her husband, Sergeant 1st Class John Gary Brown, called to say he was at the airfield and ready to take off on a "mission"--a code indicating that he was going into dangerous territory in Iraq and would contact her as soon as he landed. He told her how much he'd enjoyed being with her and their two children and pair of grandchildren during his recent leave. Then he had to cut the conversation short.

She began to worry when he didn't call or e-mail on Saturday, but told herself he was probably still on duty and couldn't get to a phone or computer. The solemn visit from the Army's casualty assistance officers that Monday came as a surprise, she tells Newsweek in the February 5 cover story, "Black Hawk Down" (on newsstands Monday, January 29).

An international reporting team--including Baghdad Bureau Chief Babak Dehghanpisheh, Miami Bureau Chief Arian Campo-Flores, senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe and national correspondent Dan Ephron--reports on the lives of Brown, and 11 other soldiers killed in the crash of a Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq.

Combined, the 12 left behind 34 children and at least a dozen grandchildren. Newsweek looks at what their deaths say about the human cost of the Iraq war.

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