CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait - “It’s just a large sense of pride. I’m doing something.”
What Pfc. Casey Brown is doing isn’t just anything, either.
As a wheeled vehicle mechanic with the 1st Squadron, 180th Cavalry Regiment, 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Oklahoma National Guard attached to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division “Red Bulls” at Camp Buehring, Kuwait, it is his job to maintain the vehicles going into and out of Iraq during the draw down phase of Operation New Dawn.
“I’d rather do something than do nothing,” said Pfc. Brown, reflecting on his experience. “I think it’s pretty awesome that I can honestly say I was there at the end.”
Experience that many won’t see in their lifetime, let alone at the young age of 20. Now in the second half of his nine month deployment, Brown must look forward to what he will do to take care of his young family when he returns back to his life as a civilian.
“I do the money-making so that she [his wife] doesn’t have to work she just has to take care of the dogs, the cat, and the baby.”
Going back to Oklahoma will mean that Brown must find another means of supporting his family back in Midwest City, Okla. He has hopes of gaining employment with Chesapeake Energy, a natural gas producer in Oklahoma City.
“They said, ‘We can either get you a job fixing trucks or we can get you a job outdoors.’ I said, either one, it’s going to pay better than what I’m doing now,” Brown said.
As a soldier on active duty orders, a Private 1st Class with two years time in service makes $1,838.70 bi-weekly. Being married and having dependents would make one eligible for $873.97 in benefits on top of that. That means for Brown, he makes less than $6,000 per month to support his family and household. Also, he is a National Guard soldier, which means his active duty orders and pay last only for the duration of his deployment. Finding an opportunity for employment as a civilian is some thing many soldiers in Brown's position have to deal with as they find themselves returning stateside.
This is Brown’s first tour of duty with the Oklahoma National Guard. As a vehicle mechanic he has few opportunities to go out on the road, but he knows that the work he does in the maintenance shop is vital to the soldiers going into Iraq.
“As with everything,” said Brown, “I’m just glad I could help.”