(NEWS CENTER) -- A soldier from Maine has died in a helicopter accident in Afghanistan.
Army Captain John R. Brainard, who was 26, was piloting an AH64 helicopter when it went down on patrol on Monday.
Captain Brainard grew up in the Newport/Dixmont area. He was a 2004 graduate of Foxcroft Academy and a 2008 graduate of the University of Maine. He was serving in the 12th Aviation Combat Brigade.
Gov. Paul LePage said in a statement, "It brings me great sadness to learn that Maine has lost Captain Brainard who dedicated himself to defending our State and Nation, and we are forever indebted to his display of courage and selfless sacrifice. It is with a heavy heart that I express my sincere condolences to his family and friends. This news never comes easy and is especially difficult knowing this young man made the ultimate sacrifice on Memorial Day.
As Memorial Day approached, the First Lady and I paused to honor those who have fallen in service to their country and decorated their graves with American flags. As my wife and I gazed across the Maine Veterans' Memorial Cemetery we honored, thanked and remembered those who gave their all - not for any recognition, but for the freedoms we all value today. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Captain Brainard, and I join with all Mainers to forever remember him as a true son of the State of Maine."
In a statement, Sen. Olympia Snowe said, "I join with all Mainers today in expressing my most profound sorrow for the loss of one of our own, Captain John Brainard, whose unfathomable sacrifice in defending our nation and the values which we hold so dear will forever live on in the collective heart of an eternally grateful country. Indeed, he answered our most honorable call by joining the U.S. Army, and his extraordinary service will stand as an enduring testament to the very best of America."
Rep. Mike Michaud issued a statement that read, ""Having just joined Mainers on Memorial Day, to honor the sacrifices of our nation's fallen heroes, I am deeply saddened to learn today of the passing of Captain John R. Brainard III. Captain Brainard served his state and nation with the highest honor, valor, and distinction, and I extend my heartfelt condolences to his family."
Rep. Chellie Pingree released this statement: "On Memorial Day, Captain Brainard gave his life in the service of his country. Our state and our nation owe him a debt of gratitude that we can never repay. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Emily, who he met when they attended the University of Maine together, and with his parents in Newport. During this time of sorrow and loss, I hope they know that we will never forget his sacrifice."
The Army is investigating the crash.