Soldier's wife learns of his death via Facebook

Soldier's wife learns of his death via Facebook

Summary: After a soldier died in Afghanistan, his wife found out via Facebook and a telephone call. Two soldiers arrived at her doorstep two hours later. The military is investigating how this happened.

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Ariell Taylor-Brown didn't learn of her husband's death in the way military spouses typically fear – via a knock on the door. She found out Staff Sgt. Christopher Brown had been killed by an insurgent bomb in Afghanistan, via Facebook.

Taylor-Brown was browsing the social network when another soldier from her husband's platoon sent her a message to call urgently. It was an emergency, she was told, but she had didn't know what kind of emergency. When she called, she was told the worst news a wife could hear.

"A girl in his platoon," Taylor-Brown told CBS. "She told me to call her immediately and I was in front of my kids and I completely had a breakdown."

Merely a few hours earlier, the two had been chatting on Skype. Brown had only been there for a week.

He had served twice in Iraq and was on his second deployment in Afghanistan. He had earned a Bronze Star, a Purple Heart, and an Army Commendation Medal.

The military instructs soldiers not to inform anyone of a death before the next of kin have been told, which is typically done in person. Two soldiers did indeed turn up at Taylor-Brown's house two hours after she had found out. By then, of course, it was too late.

Since this is a breach of the rules, the military is investigating the fact Taylor-Brown was told her husband was dead before she was informed officially. Most soldiers are warned not to release information about a death, but it's currently unclear if the soldiers who deployed with Brown were specifically told how to handle the sharing of such news. If it is determined orders were broken, there's a chance the solider in question will face court martial.

Online communication services, such as Facebook and Skype, help us stay connected, but they also mean we can do so faster and more efficiently. As with any technology, there are always downsides to the upsides.

Taylor-Brown is a widow with two children, and a third on the way. She says she will name her newborn Carter Christopher because that is what her husband would have wanted.

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Topic: Social Enterprise

Emil Protalinski

About Emil Protalinski

Emil is a freelance journalist writing for CNET and ZDNet. Over the years,
he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars
Technica, Neowin, and TechSpot.

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