Florida Native Is Key Member
Of Homeland Defense Unit in Hawaii

By Darrell D. Ames, JTF-HD Public Affairs

Navy Petty Officer Mike Brown Navy Petty Officer Mike Brown was a key member of Joint Task Force - Homeland Defense. (JTF-HD Photo by Mr. Darrell D. Ames)

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Mike Brown wasn’t sure what to expect when he received orders to report to his first joint command, Joint Task Force Homeland Defense (JTF-HD). "I really didn’t know what to expect," said Brown, a native of Jacksonville, Fla. "Regardless of where I was heading I knew I would jump right in and do my best," Brown said.

JTF-HD, with its Defense Coordinating Element, is based at Fort Shafter, Hawaii and is designated as the Homeland Defense coordinating agency between the Department of Defense and the civilian authorities in Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands as well as three foreign governments in the JOA to include the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau. Working closely with Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, and military organizations in the Pacific, JTF-HD maintains situational awareness, helps coordinate implementation of a comprehensive Critical Infrastructure Protection Program across the Joint Operations Area (JOA), and when required, coordinates and provides DOD resources to help save lives and prevent great property damage. Not exactly your typical Navy shore duty station.

"We have been very fortunate to have Petty Officer Brown as one of our enlisted leaders," said JTF-HD Chief of Operations, Army Lt. Col. Robin Lau. "Brown is a tireless worker, a dedicated professional, and someone I could always count on to get things done," Lau said.

The 32-year old Brown, a native of Jacksonville, Fla., never imagined he would be living and working in Hawaii, much less at a joint command with members from every service. "This has been a tremendous experience for me," Brown said. "I’ve gotten to know a great deal about the Army, Air Force, and Marines in the short time I’ve been here and living in Hawaii has been a very rich and rewarding adventure."

The journey started in October, 1995 when Brown said goodbye to the "hip-hop" lifestyle of lower-middle-class Westside in Jacksonville; basketball at Jeb Stuart High School; playing the drums; and working at "Save Our Community Kids" (SOCK) in his spare time, and decided to join the U.S. Navy. "Joining the Navy was the smartest move I ever made, next to getting married," Brown said. "It changed my life completely. I’ve learned the value of hard work, traveled around the world, made many new friends, and grew up a great deal," said Brown.

Brown’s first tour of duty was aboard the USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) from March 1996 to March 1999. "I started off as a deck seaman," said Brown, "but I knew I wanted something better and I knew I had to work hard to get it. That’s when I struck for my present rate (job description) of operations specialist in 1998," Brown said.

He then served at Commander Destroyer Squadron 15, attached to the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) from May, 1999 to June, 2001. It was during this period of duty that Brown participated in Operation Southern Watch, an operation conducted by Joint Task Force Southwest Asia (JTF-SWA). Their mission was to monitor and control airspace south of the 32nd Parallel in Iraq. This was followed by a tour with Commander Task Force 57/72 from July 2001 to July 2004. Brown was the watch supervisor for all the P-3 aircraft within the Fifth and Seventh Fleet areas of operation (AOR’s). "We helped set the stage for the second Gulf War (Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom)," said Brown.

Navy Petty Officer Mike Brown Navy Petty Officer Mike Brown, Joint Task Force - Homeland Defense, during recent operations in the Joint Operations Center. (Official JTF-HD Photo by Darrell D. Ames)

Petty Officer Brown’s journey continued with a tour onboard USS Shoup (DDG 86), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. While attached to Shoup Brown participated in the Tsunami Disaster relief effort off the coast of Sumatra in Dec., 2004 in addition to many other operations and exercises. Duty onboard the USS Chosin (CG 65), a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser, preceded his assignment at JTF-HD. "The Navy has provided me the opportunity to see the world, meet many people, learn a trade, and become a better person myself," said Brown. "My family was very excited for me when I entered the service. I know they’re very proud of me and everything I’ve accomplished," Brown said.

Brown sees himself as an optimistic person, someone who always believes the glass is ‘half-full’. "I’m very open-minded," said Brown. "I try to smile often and always give everyone a kind word. I’d like people to remember me as someone who was always willing to help someone in need."

"Mike is transferring back to sea duty and we’re really going to miss him," said Mel Garcia, JTF-HD Deputy J3. "He strives for success and has left his mark on our command," Garcia said. Brown, heading back to the Chosin to complete his sea duty requirements, plans on completing his education while on active duty. "I want to have my bachelor’s degree in hand within five years," Brown said. "My goal is to be working at a good job upon retirement from the Navy and set myself up for retirement within that 10-20 year period. I know I can do it," said Brown.