Maintaining the memory of a comrade in arms
Manchester veterans Mike Murphy and Curt Payne were on a mission.
Brooks was killed on Nov. 28, 2004, after a roadside bomb exploded near his Humvee in Baghdad, Iraq. It was his sixth-month wedding anniversary.
It's easy to overlook the small plaque set into the ground beneath a young maple tree, not far from the city's brick World War II memorial. Brooks' mother, Rose Marois, had paid for the granite marker after her son's death.
Sprucing up the memorial for Brooks, Murphy said, was about "making sure people don't forget about him, making sure people stop and look."
He figures he has volunteered about 30 hours a week with Payne this summer, cleaning up litter and removing graffiti in city parks.
When Murphy recently noticed the grass and litter obscuring the small memorial plaque placed in Brooks' honor, he contacted his former boss at Giant Landscaping to ask for a little help.
"We thought it was the right thing to do," Rahe said. "We wanted to clean it up a little bit for his mother and put a couple plants around it."
She was touched, she said, to know that her son's friends haven't forgotten him nearly nine years after his death. "Adam knows he's loved," she said. "I know he's looking down."
Steven Galloway Jr., who works for Giant Landscaping, said he was happy to help Murphy and Payne. He's the son of a Desert Storm Air Force veteran.
Curt Payne served in the Army from 1997 to 2000. He's been disabled with a brain injury since a car crash on Aug. 29, 2001, that nearly killed him and left him in a coma.
Peter Capano, chief of parks for the city's Parks, Recreation and Cemeteries Division, said Murphy has done a good job cleaning up litter in some of the city's public places. He noted Manchester has an adopt-a-site program that has gotten folks involved in planting and painting projects in other parks.
But he said, "We're happy to have help."
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