March 25, 2003
Posted at: 10:35 p.m. CST
FORREST CITY, Ark. -- On Monday, U.S. Army Apache Longbow helicopters made their first large-scale strike deep in Iraq. One Region 8 hero took part in that attack twelve years after firing one of the first shots of the first Gulf War.
CW4 Brian Stewmon is a family man, he's married with three children. Right now though, his career is taking priority. He is a warrant officer in the Army, flying its newest type of Apache helicopter for the 3rd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Division. Ever since his Brian's father Billy Stewmon can remember, his son has been an achiever.
"He made good grades in school, he was a 3.9 grade average in high school, just a good all-around boy," Billy Stewmon said.
That success aided Stewmon as a pilot and his efforts in the Gulf War speak for themself.
"He is actually credited for firing the first shot of the Desert Storm conflict," Billy said.
In the first Gulf War, Brian won two combat medals. Now he faces the reality that two of his own are captured. In the skies over Iraq on Monday, American forces were met with a curtain of fire. One Apache was taken down and two pilots were captured. The prospect that Brian could have been captured terrified his father.
"When the Apaches went down the other night, I stayed up all night, because the Iraqis said they shot down two." Billy Stewmon said. "How I knew that wasn't him because his helmet has a Razorback Hog on it."
As the war continues, Billy Stewmon often thinks of his son. He finds comfort in prayer.
"I you can stay busy doing something it kind of helps," Billy said. "But you're always worrying about him, he's my baby, last born."
Brian Stewmon has a little over four years until his retirement from the military. His family longs for that day, but for now they understand that Stewmon has a job to do and a county to serve. No one knows and appreciates this more than his own father.
"I'm a pilot, I spent 21 years as a pilot, and he's doing something I would have like to have done back when I was a young man. So yeah, I'm proud of him, real proud of him," Billy Stewmon said.