Wayne T. Jackson, an uncle of Alicia A. Birchett, recently came across a bit of insight into why she joined the Army.
Looking at a photo she had given him before she shipped out to Iraq, he discovered a note written on the back that he had not previously noticed: "I am doing this to make you proud."
Birchett, 29, of Mashpee, Mass., died Aug. 9 in Baghdad of injuries from a non-combat accident. She was a 1995 high school graduate and was assigned to Fort Campbell.
"This one here was a gem," said Robert T. Hendricks, a cousin. "She always put everybody else first. And this is not just a cliche, this is the real deal. This is who she is."
A member of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, she enlisted in the Army in 1996 and served five international tours in her 12 years in the Army, including stints in Germany and Korea. She was in charge of maintaining vehicles while in Iraq.
"My wife was a strong, loving, giving person," said her husband, Joe Birchett. "She loved to take care of people."
She also is survived by three young sons: Joe, Julian and Silas.