05/01/13 8:00pm
05/01/2013 8:00 PM

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | Corporal Cedric Brown, injured in combat in Iraq, received a town proclamation and was awarded a Purple Heart in March 2007.

Former Riverside resident Cedric Brown, a Marine Corporal who was awarded a Purple Heart in 2007 after he was injured by a roadside explosive in Iraq the previous year, died Tuesday in Georgia, where he’s lived for the past five years.

The cause of death was sudden and undetermined, his brother, Daniel Gilliam said Wednesday.

Corporal Brown was 31.

He leaves behind his wife, Jacinda, and his two children, Cedric Jr., who is 23 months old, and Vincent, who is 1, according to his stepmother, Jacqueline Brown. He also is survived by his father, Roger Brown of Riverside and his mother, Dawne Gilliam of Riverhead.

Corporal Cedric Brown.

“He was very family oriented,” his brother said. “He was always everyone’s big brother and he definitely took pride in his family. His two boys were his pride and joy.”

Corporal Brown lived in Conyers, Ga. and previously lived in Riverside. He graduated from Riverhead High School in 2000.

He joined the Marines in November 2002, following his father, who also served as corporal in the Marines.

“He served his country, and he was a humble dude, always with a smile on his face, and he loved his family,” said Carl Brown, Corporal Brown’s first cousin.

Corporal Brown told The News-Review in a 2007 interview that he spent the first three years in Washington, D.C. as a guard working with the White House Communications Agency on presidential support and assisting with the security for government trips.

In 2006, he was on active duty in Iraq, where he was a dismount team leader and Mark 19 gunner in the 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Division, Weapons Company, 81st Platoon.

He was injured by a roadside bomb while patrolling streets in a vehicle in Iraq, searching for hidden explosive devises and terrorists, when a roadside bomb blew up, giving him a concussion and a blowing out his ear drum.

In the 2007 interview, he said his hearing had mostly come back, and that he was thankful to still have all his limbs. He said he was back on duty after just one day in the hospital.

“If my peers are out there risking their lives and I’m able to do it too — I can still walk, I can still focus, and I can still do my job — it was right to go back out there, so I didn’t complain,” he said in the 2007 interview.

“He was definitely a tough guy,” Mr. Gilliam said Wednesday of his brother, who played football and ran track at Riverhead, where he also was a member of the German Honor Society.

His Purple Heart was presented to him at a Riverhead Town Board meeting in February 2007 by Rich Weeks, the New York State Commander of the Military Order of Purple Hearts. He was given proclamations by the Town Board, the Riverhead Board of Education and the Suffolk County Legislature at the time.

After four years in the Marines, he worked security for Riverhead High School and Peconic Bay Medical Center before moving to Georgia, where he worked security at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, according to Mr. Gilliam.

The family will have a small service in Georgia Saturday. A wake is expected to be held at the Reginald H. Tuthill Funeral Home in Riverhead. Arrangements were not yet set.

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10/11/12 8:00am
10/11/2012 8:00 AM

Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola faces a court-martial for urinating on a dead Taliban soldier, which has created a wide-ranging mix of emotions from people in the community.

I stand proudly behind service members. I am a former U.S. Marine and my husband is a Marine, just returned home from Afghanistan, which was his third deployment in support of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I am also a Southold High School alumna who from childhood has known Marine Staff Sgt. Edward Deptola, the local Marine currently awaiting disciplinary action for urinating on the remains of a dead Taliban soldier. He has had a successful Marine Corps career with numerous deployments and, until this episode, could have been considered a hometown hero. One mistake should not define a man, but he needs to take responsibility and be held accountable for his actions.

Marines are held to a higher standard than this, by the Marine Corps, their country and society. Not only is it against the rules of warfare to desecrate human remains, it’s against all morality as well.

I understand being angry at the enemy. It’s expected, frankly, and it’s hard not to be.  What I do not, and cannot, understand is urinating on someone’s body, whether they are a “terrorist” or not. Remember, colonial Americans could have been classified as “terrorists” during the American Revolution.

I know the Marine Corps is not supporting the actions of these Marines, and especially this staff sergeant, which is a senior rank for Marines and represents someone who is supposed to be guiding and training upstanding Marines and citizens. The Marine Corps goes by a code of conduct preaching “honor, courage and commitment.” I see none of those in an act like this.

Service members are held to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the laws that govern all branches and ranks of the U.S. armed forces. Article 133 of the UCMJ states that any service member “convicted of conduct unbecoming of an officer and a gentleman shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.” Marines, regardless of their rank, officer or enlisted, are held to these standards, and urinating on a dead body is not the action of an officer or a gentleman.

Article 16, second paragraph, of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV provides: “As far as military considerations allow, each party to the conflict shall facilitate the steps taken … to protect [the killed] against … ill-treatment.” Breaking those rules can be classified as either war crimes or crimes against humanity.

Although the enemy may not follow the Geneva Convention, the United States accepts it, and its service members are required to abide by it. While it may be infuriating to see the desecration of American citizens on live television, American troops are expected to rise above emotional reactions and follow the laws and regulations set forth by the UCMJ and the Geneva Convention.

Those Marines, especially a staff sergeant, knew what they were doing was wrong, and they knew what laws, codes of conduct and regulations they were breaking.

I cannot throw my support behind or condone their actions and I can’t even pretend to feel sorry for whatever punishment they receive. This is an embarrassment for the Marine Corps, for our country and for Southold.

For those rallying behind Staff Sgt. Deptola, I respect your decision to stand behind our troops. They are selflessly serving our country and protecting us from the threats of terrorism. I implore you to spend your money, time and effort instead supporting service members and organizations that deserve your support.

A few ideas include sponsoring organizations like the Wounded Warrior Project (woundedwarriorproject.org) or the USO (uso.org), or sending care packages to deployed troops. If you don’t know anyone, you can send items from thecarepackageproject.com.

There are dozens of valuable organizations and thousands of worthy troops who deserve your support.

The author is a 2004 graduate of Southold High School currently living in Jacksonville, N.C.

09/29/12 5:43pm
09/29/2012 5:43 PM

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Staff Sgt. Edward W. Deptola at a welcome home party at McDonald’s in Mattituck last October.

A defense fund was created to help two U.S. Marines, one of whom is from Southold, who are being court-martialed for allegedly urinating on dead Taliban fighters in Afghanistan in late July 2011, and posing for pictures with the bodies.

The 3/2 Scout Sniper Defense Fund has started a Facebook site with a link to a PayPal account where contributions can be made, according to Laura Pace of Mattituck. Her brother, Staff Sgt. Edward Deptola of Southold, 27, faces charges along with another Marine, Staff. Sgt. Joseph Chambin, for the urinating incident, which was captured in a video that appeared on YouTube in January.

Click here for the full story on The Suffolk Times.