Bobby Brown Honored
STAFF SERGEANT ENROLLED IN NAVY ROTC MECEP PROGRAM HONORED
Staff Sgt. Robert “Bobby” Brown is a hardworking father of two young boys who has served his nation for the past decade.
“I’m a crazy proud father,” the Boise native said as he shows off a picture of his blond haired 5-year-old son smiling brightly and dressed in a fuzzy hoodie for his first day of kindergarten.
He is now using the same dedication and commitment he’s had serving in the military and to being a father to get his bachelor’s degree in recreation from the University of Idaho College of Education.
Brown is part of the Marine Corps Enlisted Commissioning Education Program (MECEP), which offers Marines the chance to attend a four-year college full time while still maintaining active duty status and pay. After he graduates in December 2016 he will be commissioned as a second lieutenant.
According to Cmdr. Alex Greig, Executive Officer for University of Idaho Navy ROTC, only about 1 percent of the enlisted force is part of the MECEP. Acceptance to the program is highly competitive and only about one in three applicants are accepted.
“I remember meeting him for the first time,” Greig said. “His attitude of respect, big voice and personality impressed me right away.”
While Brown says he intends to retire from the Marines, he wanted a game plan for when he returns to civilian life.
While on a tour in Iraq, a mobile PX — or store — rolled up to Brown’s remote post. The semi-truck was full of candy, treats, magazines, games and other forms of entertainment. Brown chatted with the driver and learned putting the contents together to take to the soldiers in isolated locations was a job designation.
“I couldn’t believe this was something a person actually did for a job!” he said.
Brown said doing something to help others all the time appealed to him and he began working in the military’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program. His experience led him to enroll as a Vandal and put his lifelong love and involvement in the outdoors to work toward a recreation degree.
“Outdoor recreation is my escape, and I want to help others to find their escape as well,” he said.
Brown has put his words into action through hundreds of hours of community involvement. He has volunteered extensively with the Marines of the Palouse in not only offering camaraderie but assisting in food drives and fundraising events for traumatically injured soldiers. He also was a key co-organizer of the Northwest Navy Competition which brought nearly 300 NROTC members to the Moscow campus for a dozen events over several days.
“He is a charismatic individual who is good at applying his confidence at the right time and right place,” said Capt. Tony Roubal, Marine Officer Instructor. “He is an excellent student and a solid mentor. He has a strong sense of determination.”
Brown also worked with Idaho N Heroes Outdoors as well as the Warriors and Quiet Waters Foundation, which helps reintegrate traumatically combat-injured veterans and active service members into society through therapeutic recreational mediums such as assisted and guided fishing and hunting expeditions. He volunteered on a trip in which six veterans and their spouses were given an all-expense paid fishing trip, including one veteran who had lost both his legs.
“It is one of the more emotional things I’ve ever experienced,” he explained.
His determination and excellent academic performance brought him national recognition when he was awarded a nationally competitive USS Little Rock Association Scholarship and was presented with the honor by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus at a ceremony in New York.
“Bobby brings a love of the recreation profession and how recreation — especially being outdoors — can help veterans and people in general deal with difficult life events and challenges,” said Julie S. Son, associate professor and program coordinator of the recreation degree program. “His can-do attitude, professionalism, knowledge and experience benefit the students, faculty, staff and community members with whom he interacts.”
— Story by Allison R. Stormo, College of Education