By Army Spc. William A. Joeckel
U.S. Division Center
BAGHDAD, July 11, 2011 – The 1st Infantry Division’s 1st “Vanguard” Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade is a family away from home for many soldiers serving in U.S. Division Center here.
One such soldier is Army Sgt. Brian McCown, assigned to the battalion’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company. A Eureka, Mo., native, McCown is an M1 Abrams main battle tank crewman who also serves as the battalion ammunition noncommissioned officer, electronic warfare noncommissioned officer and air movement coordinator.
McCown has been with the unit during multiple deployments, in various job positions. As the longest-serving Vanguard soldier, he said, he hopes always to be in a position that supports the battalion.
“It’s not only an honor and a privilege to be a part of this organization,” McCown said. “It is also an important part of my life.”
From deployments as a tank crewman patrolling the streets of Iraq and as a section leader in the battalion’s personal security detachment to multi-tasking three demanding jobs, McCown has proven to be a reliable soldier. He credits his loyalty to the unit to his leaders.
“I never left the unit because the leadership has always been great,” he said.
McCown’s first deployment was in 2004 with the 1st Armored Division’s 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As an Abrams tank crewman, he patrolled the streets of Sadr City here for the majority of the tour.
In March 2008, that unit was re-designated as 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, and McCown has served two deployments with the unit since then -- the first in 2008 as a section leader in the battalion personal security detachment in the lead truck of the battalion commander’s escort team.
McCown now is serving in his third deployment, scheduling helicopter flights, performing ammunition inventories and supervising upkeep of electronic warfare equipment on the vehicles. Though his schedule is demanding, he also takes time to mentor the soldiers in his section.
“He has shown me discipline and what to do in an assortment of situations,” said Army Pfc. Frankie Busby, a M1 Abrams crewman and a Linton, Ind., native. “He takes time out of his already busy day to show me how to do a task instead of just telling me.”
Helping his fellow Americans back home also is important to McCown. During his rest and recuperation leave to Missouri in late May and early June, he assisted in the relief efforts for the people who lost almost everything in the Joplin tornado disaster. A friend of McCown’s, who owns a camping supply store, donated air conditioning-adaptable tents. McCown helped to deliver the tents to people in the area.
“He is probably one of the most selfless NCOs I have ever met,” said Army Staff Sgt. Sean Rodda, an operations sergeant with the battalion and a Tampa, Fla., native. “No matter how many additional duties are piled on him, he makes that duty his own and follows it to the absolute completion.”
McCown said he aspires to be a warrant officer, and that he hopes whatever work is ahead of him supports the Vanguard Battalion in some way.
“Regardless of my future endeavors, I will always be a Vanguard,” he said.