Story and photo by Spc. William A. Joeckel, 2AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C
BAGHDAD—The 1st “Vanguard” Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center is a family away from home for many Soldiers within the unit, some of whom have dedicated many years of their life in its service.
One such Soldier is Sgt. Brian McCown, assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Bn., 18th Inf. Regt. and a Eureka, Mo., native, 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 hopes to always 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, a section leader in the battalion personal security detachment to multi-tasking three demanding jobs, McCown has proved to be a reliable Soldier that the unit has consistently been able to count on.
“I never left the unit because the leadership has always been great,” said McCown.
McCown’s first deployment was in 2004 with 1st Battalion, 41st Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 1st Armored Division, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. As an Abrams tank crewman, he patrolled the streets of Sadr City, in his tank, for the majority of the tour.
In March 2008 that unit was re-designated as 1st Bn., 18th Inf. Regt. 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 is now serving in his third deployment performing multiple daily task such as scheduling helicopter flights, performing ammunition inventories, and the supervision and upkeep of electronic warfare equipment on the vehicles. His performance in his jobs helps to keep the Vanguards operating.
Though McCown’s 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 Pfc. Frankie Busby, a M1 Abrams crewman with HHC, 1st Bn., 18th Inf. Regt. 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 American citizens back home is also a quality that McCown exhibits. During his rest and relaxation leave to Missouri in late May and early June of this year, 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 deliver the tents to the residents of the area.
“He is probably one of the most selfless NCOs I have ever met,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Rodda, an operations sergeant with 1st Bn., 18th Inf. Regt. 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 aspires to be a warrant officer; however, he hopes that whatever work is ahead of him, in some way, supports the Vanguard Battalion.
“Regardless of my future endeavors, I will always be a Vanguard,” McCown said.