Dedicated service

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Madeline Herzog
  • 435th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

During the late 1970’s a young boy named Michael Brown walked down his street every Sunday, bouncing a ball to himself, to get to his youth class. Parked cars filled both sides of the road, leaving a small path for traffic to drive through. Houses lined just as close as the cars to form a three foot alleyway between them.

As Brown walked, he would come across an empty lot with freshly cut grass and a flagpole standing boldly alone in the city. A small cement path surrounded the base of the pole, along with a small plaque that read ‘May the flag always fly over a nation we can be proud of.’

Every week he would pass the flagpole and pause for a few minutes to watch the American flag wave in the wind before continuing his walk to youth class.

Brown was a kid who loved history, and read a lot of science fiction and fantasy stories growing up. He had one foot in the past, one foot in the future and never knew what he was doing in the present. As a young boy, he dreamed of being in the military because he knew it was something he could believe in and rely on. Ultimately, Brown wanted to give back to his country and commit to something bigger than himself.

Fast forward to the present, Tech. Sgt. Michael Brown is deployed to the 435th Air Expeditionary Wing at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, where he troubleshoots communication and computer issues, and supports units deployed throughout Africa. Brown has been serving in the Air National Guard for almost 16 years. When he is at his home station, Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth, Texas, he works as a client systems craftsman on the weekends, and wears the uniform during the week as a federal technician for the same unit.

Joining the U.S. Air Force was an initial instinct of Brown from a young age. He said being in the military forms a bond and camaraderie with people you wouldn’t normally attain as a civilian.

Sixteen years may be a long time to serve in the military to some people, but there is a lot more to Brown’s story than meets the eye.

Originally, Brown enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1984 to 1996 as a tactical air command repairman and an electronics countermeasures system technician. During those 12 years of service, he supported Operation Desert Storm and Operation Desert Shield and served on six deployments.

In 1997, he took a six year hiatus from the military to recharge his batteries.

Then, in 2003, he enlisted in the Army National Guard and served for two years. After those two years were over, not even 24 hours after leaving the ARNG, Brown enlisted in the Air National Guard where he has been serving since.

After almost 30 years of service, Brown doesn’t think of his time in the military as a job, he considers it his hobby.

“I see this as a hobby – ‘why do you do a hobby?’ You do it because you enjoy it and it makes you happy,” said Brown. “There are ups and downs no matter where you are or what you do; you just have to get up and learn from them. I’ve made friendships that will last the rest of my life.”

One such friendship is with Capt. Brandon Alexander, 435th AEW chief of wing intelligence and fellow Airman who sits near Brown. Alexander jokes that he can never get any work done because Brown always has a story for him to listen to.

“It's actually pretty interesting working next to Brown because it's almost as if I'm living in history,” said Alexander. “It's rare that you find individuals serving over 30 years in the military. He's dedicated to the missions and is sincere in working to protect the freedoms that we all get to enjoy.”

After all of his years in the service and through all of his experiences, Brown said that his greatest triumph was marrying his wife and becoming a father at the age of 51.

His 30 years of dedicated service to this country is a testimony to his strength of character and resilience.

Brown encourages his fellow service members to find their ‘why’ and use it as motivation to continue serving.

“This is a hobby for me,” said Brown. “I will keep doing it until the military tells me to take my ball and go home.”