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Island soldier Chris Brown is welcomed homeDespite a chilly wind and rain, Islanders provided a warm welcome home for Specialist J. N. Christopher (Chris) Brown, Army National Guard, as he stepped off the Nantucket at 4:30 pm Tuesday in Vineyard Haven after an 18-month tour of duty in Kosovo.
Specialist Brown served as a Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) gunner for Alpha Company, 1-181 Infantry, Task Force Red Dragon. His unit, Multi-National Task Force (East), took part in a peacekeeping mission in Kosovo for United Nations' forces.
Specialist Brown recently received the Army Commendation Medal for meritorious achievement as a combat lifesaver. On June 22, 2007, Specialist Brown cared for and treated three Ukrainians who were severely injured in a vehicle rollover. A certificate from the Secretary of the Army which accompanied his medal noted that, "His efforts were critical in the success of saving at least two soldiers' lives and preventing further trauma to a third injured solider."
American Legion member Jim Dorsey welcomes home Specialist Chris Brown, along with members Gene DeFelice and Ed Colligan to his right. Photo by Susan Safford
Acting Oak Bluffs School principal Carlin Hart and six teachers, who work with Specialist Brown's mother Deb, a physical education teacher, provided an Oak Bluffs School cheering squad. "Only on Martha's Vineyard can you have such a great homecoming - it's truly a warm, caring community," Mrs. Brown said.
Specialist Brown, age 22, attended Oak Bluffs School and graduated from Martha's Vineyard Regional High School in 2003. He joined the Army National Guard as a college freshman. He was called up for active duty the summer of 2006 before the start of his junior year, shortly after he began working as a Chilmark special police officer.
"I'm definitely looking forward to getting back to the way things were before I left," Specialist Brown said. His mom said she looks forward to having their family together again for the holidays, including his sister Abigail who lives in Quincy, and making up for all the holidays they missed with him while he was gone. To kick off her son's homecoming celebration, Ms. Brown planned to cook a lobster dinner for him when they got home.