Brown declined to be interviewed for this article, instead saying he would let his officer evaluations speak for themselves.
Those documents were released by the military in January after a May 2011 public records request by the Globe. He also wrote extensively about his Guard duty in his 2011 memoir, “Against All Odds.”
Brown initially enlisted in 1979, after being inspired by the example of local soldiers rescuing stranded motorists in the Blizzard of ’78.
“I wanted to serve,” he wrote in his memoir. “Here were men whom I could admire, men whose job it was to protect others as the normal course of their lives.”
Brown rose from the infantry to an Airborne-qualified soldier and his current assignment as a judge advocate general officer, the military version of an attorney.
Early on, he helped soldiers heading off to war prepare their wills and powers of attorney. He then became the military’s top defense lawyer in New England, handling cases involving soldiers who got in trouble with civilian authorities or were going to be kicked out of the military for having drugs, for example.
“I got the reputation as the lawyer to seek out if there was a problem, because I always tried to go the extra mile for my clients, the soldiers,” Brown wrote.
Today, Brown spends his time in the Pentagon, up to 39 days a year, focused on legislative matters and working on policy coordination between Guard units in each of the 50 states.
Lawmaker role noted
As his political career progressed from the Wrentham Board of Assessors to the Massachusetts Legislature and on to the US Senate, his military evaluations and promotional and award recommendations also began to note his dual role as a lawmaker.
“LTC Brown demonstrated consummate professionalism and selfless dedication to duty by putting aside his weighty senatorial obligations to serve the needs of the Army,” wrote a captain who recommended him for a medal for a speech Brown delivered in 2010.
While Brown twice had Guard assignments overseas — to Paraguay for a week in 2005 for a judicial awareness program, and to Kazakhstan for about two weeks in 2007 for an emergency preparedness exercise — he has never been deployed for combat duty.
Brown was once assigned to an infantry brigade but transferred out in the mid-1990s. “By then, I was married with two kids,” he wrote in his memoir. “It was becoming less enticing to spend weekends in the woods.”
From 2006 to 2009, amid the fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq, Brown was assigned to another brigade that could have been ordered into combat. But in March 2009, while still a state senator, Brown transferred, taking a nondeployable headquarters position at the Joint Forces Headquarters in Milford.
His former brigade was called to active duty and deployed to Afghanistan in February 2010.
If Brown had still been in the unit, it is not certain that he would have been deployed. Slots for specific skills such as those possessed by JAG officers are filled as demands warrant.
Since 1991, in Operation Desert Storm, five JAG officers from Massachusetts have deployed to a combat zone, including one to Iraq from 2007 to 2008 and four to Afghanistan from 2011 to 2012.
Such military attorneys do everything from handling questions about the rules of engagement to drafting contracts with local civilian suppliers.
Sought active duty
In his memoir, Brown said that he has served where ordered.
“For myself, and for other friends in the Guard, there’s a feeling of somehow not doing our part because we have not been called to extended active duty,” he wrote. “For years, I’ve wished that I, too, could go over and serve, but, like all soldiers, I go where I am ordered.”
In 2010, the first year Brown was both a US senator and member of the Guard, he requested to serve his summer duty in Afghanistan during the August congressional recess.
“Doing so will help me better understand our ongoing mission in that country and provide me firsthand experience for my duties on the Senate Armed Services, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs committees,” the senator said in the statement.
He was gone for two weeks, but spent part of that time in predeployment training and traveling to and from Afghanistan.
His emotional airport reunion with his wife earned him the headline in the Boston Herald, “Love & War.”
Brown told reporters at Logan that the soldiers he visited were worried about the pace of President Obama’s troop drawdown in Afghanistan. He spoke of the 116-degree heat as he ate with the troops while dressed in full body armor.Continued...