Birchett, Sgt. Alicia- 101st Airborne soldier dies in Iraq 8-07

This military portrait provided by her aunt Laverne Jackson, date and location unknown, shows U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Alicia Birchett, who died Thursday, Aug. 9, 2007, in a non-combat accident in Iraq.
(AP Photo/Family Photo
via Cape Cod Times)

Mashpee, Massachusetts - An Army sergeant with the 101st Airborne Division and mother of three died in Iraq after being injured when the brakes of a truck failed while she changed a tire, her family said.

Staff Sgt. Alicia Birchett, 29, died Aug. 9 in Baghdad, the Department of Defense said Wednesday. Birchett, who had lived in Waynesboro, Tenn., was originally from Massachusetts and was a member of the Wampanoag tribe, her family said.

She was an engineer mechanic assigned to the 887th Engineer Company, 326th Engineer Battalion, 101st Sustainment Brigade, 101st Airborne Division based at Fort Campbell, Ky.

Family members said Birchett was an adventurous, practical and dedicated woman who joined the military immediately after graduating from Falmouth (Mass.) High School in 1995. She also served tours of duty in Germany and Korea.

“Joining the Army was her way of contributing to the world and seeing the world,” her cousin Beatrice Jackson said.

Since learning of her death, more than a dozen members of Birchett’s family have continuously watched over a small outdoor fireplace at the home of her aunt. Tribal tradition says flames should burn from when a person dies until they are buried.

They plan to bury Birchett Saturday during a ceremony at the Old Indian Cemetery in Mashpee.

“No disrespect to the (military) service, but she’s our tribe and that’s why we’re burying her with our people,” said Laverne Jackson, Birchett’s aunt.

Birchett is survived by her husband and her three sons, ages 2, 4 and 7.

See related story: Mass. soldiers killed in Iraq buried amid military, Indian honors