TOWN OF FENTON, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – Brian Brown joined the US Army National Guard right after graduating from high school in Marathon, New York in 1992.
Post 1194 Commander Brian Brown says, “after I graduated and had a crap job and didn’t really have a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out that I talked to a recruiter, Joe DiTelli from up in Cortland, and he talked me into it. Didn’t lie to me, anything about what I would expect. Next thing I knew, on Thanksgiving Day in 1992, I was on my way to Fort Jackson, South Carolina.”
He said his goal when they first started boot camp, was to fly under the radar, that is, until his passion started to show.
Brown says, “We were doing something, I can’t remember what it was, and everybody was screwing it up, and I just went off on everybody. I’m like, why can’t we do this, F-bombs going all over the place, and next thing I know, I turn around and our drill sergeant is behind me. And he’s like giving me the evil eye, but he’s like, yeah I know you now so.”
Brown served as a field mechanic.
“We were tasked with, to go to Kuwait. And they had engineering projects that they were assigned for, to build up base camps or to modernize some of them that were there in Iraq.”
“I was tasked with, anything that happened with any of the equipment, we had to get it up quick. And we were getting parts was near impossible because of where we were at.”
In 1993, he started his first stint of duty in Germany; he says he was sent there to address a genocide that had slowly been ramping up throughout the early 90’s.
From there, he served 3 deployments to Bosnia in 95, Iraq in 2005, and in 2017 went to Kuwait, Syria and back to Iraq.
One of his most vivid memories occurred just across the Bosnian border in Croatia.
His squad’s base-camp was in a propane tank factory that was still actively being used.
“One night, the workers were doing some welding, and somehow, there was ammunition stored around where they were doing their welding. And it caught on fire and pretty much blew the whole camp up.”
Upon returning home from his first deployment, reality set in quick that he now had to find a good enough job to support himself.
It wasn’t until after his second deployment in 2005 that he was approached by the management at Field Maintenance Shop 13 on West End Ave in Binghamton.
Brown officially started working at the armory in 2008 and has stuck with it ever since.
Shortly after, Brown began assimilating into the local community, and was asked by a fellow employee if he could pitch in and help with a project at the American Legion Post 1194.
From there, Brown became a part of 1194’s family, worked his way onto the board, and eventually became the Post Commander in 2018.
He says that everyone who is involved at Post 1194 are volunteers, which creates the family dynamic.
“We had the American Legion National Commander in our post, and as far as I know, that has never happened here.”
Brown says that joining the army was one of the best decisions he had ever made.
He didn’t recognize it at a young age, but he is a true-born leader who only wants the best for his community and nation.
NewsChannel 34 will air a 30 minute Veterans Voices special tomorrow evening, Veterans Day, at 7:30 on WBGH.