By Alexis Ann
On May 18th, the Town of Montville will hold its Memorial Day parade. Every year, the Mohegan Tribe enters a float in this parade. “This year will be no different,” says Mohegan Chairman Kevin Brown, except that this year, its chairman happens to be a veteran. Colonel Kevin Brown, US Army (ret), will march to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation.
Chairman Kevin Brown, “Red Eagle” by Tribal name, served as a leader of US Army Combat Troops. The date of the parade is the eighth anniversary of one of his most heart wrenching days in 2007 – when he helped carry four of his fallen troops from the battlefield to their final resting place. Colonel Brown will march in remembrance and respect of those men. He will march as the officer and gentleman soldier he will forever be – always a Warrior.
Some are drawn to military service, others are born to it. Colonel Brown came in to the world at US Army Post Fort Campbell, Kentucky. The son of a decorated Airborne Combat Infantryman, whose 26-year career saw battle in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam; young Kevin Brown grew up to the sound of trumpet calls, the tramp of marching boots and sight of his father parachuting into the drop zone.
“When I was ten years old, I remember standing on the front lawn with my mother watching the paratroopers jump from the airplane and descend down under their parachutes. My mother said, “He was supposed to be jumper number nine so that’s probably him right there.” “That puts an imprint on your soul. Though I didn’t really know it, nor made it a lifelong goal of mine, it was always in the back of my mind to join the military.”
After following his dad to various postings, the family came home to their Mohegan Tribe in Montville. A stellar student/athlete, young Kevin was courted by the finest east coast Division III colleges and Division I-A, I-AA universities for his academic excellence and football prowess. However, after a personal visit by a West Point coach, Kevin’s dad dropped an application packet on the kitchen table. BOOM! “Fill this out!”
“Without blinking or thinking, I filled it out, signed it and mailed it!” It was a decision made by a boy that would soon mold the man.
After four arduous years of study and intense military training, Cadet Brown stood in a cavernous room with his classmates to “participate in the time honored tradition” of picking his first military assignment, according to class academic standing. Although his father had urged him to pursue military intelligence assignments, his lineage overcame him and he chose the 101st Airborne Division, Combat Infantry, Fort Campbell, Kentucky. Life has a route that always leads forward, but at times returns us from whence we came. “I laughed at the remarkable turn of events that saw my first office located in a building that was 100 feet from the hospital where I was born.” Brown said while broadly smiling.
The years that followed were to see the young lieutenant go from leading a platoon of 200 troops to leading a task force of 1000 troops in Iraq. In 2006, Colonel Brown served as the operations officer with the 10th Mountain Division, home to as elite a fighting force as there is in the world. He eventually retired as garrison commander of Fort Riley, Kansas; acting as “mayor and city manager for 50,000 persons; to include soldiers and their families.”
Colonel Brown noted that leaving home for deployment is like leaving a base, in that it is where you leave from. And returning home from combat is the base where you return to. That base is the center of our lives.
A warrior does not relish combat; he or she is in it for purpose and cause – protection of our nation and its rights and freedoms. Colonel Brown, during both of his tours of duty in Iraq, did so relentlessly and with honor. He was known as “a soldier’s soldier” – an officer who led from the front, role modeling that which he commanded of his troops.
He takes justifiable pride in the results of that team effort approach. When asked if he accomplished the mission, he thoughtfully responded, “We fulfilled our Mission – We accomplished all that was asked of us….All paid a price, some returned home to a hero’s burial.”