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      10-13-06  

 

 

 

 

 

Wounded state rep returns from Iraq
Jason Brown credits survival, fast healing to 'God thing'

BACK HOME: Rep. Jason Brown of Platte City arrived at KCI Tuesday evening after being wounded in Iraq last week. Brown’s wife, Rachelle, and kids Aalyna, 8, and Caleb, 4, embraced him upon his return. Brown is now home on 30-day leave.

by Dave Kinnamon
Landmark assistant editor

It was the stuff from which Academy Award-winning Hollywood scripts are made.

Even better actually.

And Jason Brown, the Platte City area's state representative, cuts a pretty good Operation Iraqi Freedom parallel to a young Jimmy Stewart.

Rachelle Brown, Jason’s wife, does great justice to Grace Kelly, as well.

Into the arms of a loving and emotional wife and a young daughter and son who could barely restrain themselves behind the airport gate waiting area, Jason Brown of Platte City, the Missouri 30th District representative, returned home from combat duty in Iraq less only about five days after taking a bullet in the lung. News of his injury was first reported on The Landmark's web site at plattecountylandmark.com around noon on Friday.

Brown returned home to a joyous family and welcoming crowd of about 50 people at Kansas City International Airport (KCI) on Tuesday at about 5:30 p.m.

Brown arrived home to Platte City, by way of Delta Airlines Flight 1099. Despite 100 percent overcast conditions and a persistent and firm rain, Delta Flight 1099 actually landed about 15 minutes earlier (than its scheduled landing at 5:45 p.m.) on Tuesday.

Brown said he had been awake for about a day-and-a-half straight while flying from Baghdad eventually to Atlanta, Ga., then a less-than-two-hour flight from Atlanta to Kansas City.

Brown, looking slimmer, tanner and more fit than when he initially deployed in March, seemed obviously overwhelmed and even a bit disoriented from all the air travel and sudden arrival to loving hearts, home and hearth.

Rachelle and children, Alayna and Caleb, collapsed on Brown at Delta Gate 58 as he walked from the exit gate. They hugged and squeezed and loved their daddy and husband as tightly as the bullet wound in the left side of his chest would permit.

Brown officially begins 30 days of convalescent leave at his Platte City residence.

“I’ve still got the bullet in my left lung. The doctors said that’s the first time they’ve seen (a patient) that had been shot in the lung and the lung did not collapse,” Brown said.

Brown feels “very, very lucky” at the outcome.

“While I was in the hospital, a lot of us in the hospital there, my crew member and myself, they kept us in the same room, we both believe it was a ‘God thing.’ A couple of seconds anyway, a couple of inches any direction, and the bullet can end up in a radically different state than what we’re in right now,” Brown said.

Brown said he thought about and yearned about his reunion with his wife and kids every day he was “over there.”

“The hardest thing about being deployed is being away from your wife and kids,” Brown said.

Rachelle and kids have dibs on him, where he’ll remain at home for the next few days, Brown said, and he plans to visit some relatives in Iowa.

“We’re going to spend the next few days just sitting at home, being a family,” Brown said.

Brown also has rehabilitation to do while on his month-long convalescent leave, he said.

Asked what he planned to do his first night home, Brown said,

“Probably get something to eat, I haven’t eaten since earlier today,” a bemused and dimple-laden Brown replied with a chuckle.

But Brown insisted the Army chow, presumably served up with love and lots of enthusiasm by Kellogg, Brown and Root employees, was “really great.”

Brown also has seen the past seven months forward progress develop in his unit’s area of operations, just eat of the Tigris River, in Baghdad.

“The situation is getting better in Iraq, but everywhere there the progress is just slow. It takes a long time,” Brown said.

Brown will provide specific examples of progress in his unit’s area of operations in Baghdad, as well as a brief description of the small unit action that resulted in his wound, in a press release in two days, he said.

There are no scheduled surgeries for Brown.

“My lung did not collapse when I was shot, which is extremely odd, and I’m extremely lucky. Right now there isn’t a plan to extract the bullet. It’s still in me; it’s still in my left lung. I’ve got to make sure that nothing happens to that lung right now,” Brown said.

After the month of convalescent leave, Brown will be required to return to his unit in Iraq and initially be on “light duty” in the combat zone, Brown said.

Brown was wounded on Thursday by incoming sniper fire while on patrol in Baghdad.

Brown, a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserves, serves as a Humvee gunner with the 414th Civil Affairs Unit, based in Utica, N.Y.

Mrs. Brown had earlier this week updated the public about Jason Brown’s condition at a campaign fundraiser for her him at the Shield’s Manor Bistro, 121 Main St., Platte City on Monday.

“It’s only the fifth day, but it feels like it’s been a month,” Rachelle Brown had said.

Army officials have not disclosed details about the mission Brown was on during which he was shot. Early media reports have indicated that Brown may have been shot by an Iraqi insurgent sniper.

Rachelle Brown told The Landmark on Monday that she does not know whether the bullet came from a sniper, was a stray round or came from close-unit action.

Jason Brown withheld comment about the actual combat action until his press release in two days, he said.

Mrs. Brown got to speak to her husband every day by telephone since his wounding, she said.

“I’ve been through every emotion the past five days. I feel like I’m on an emotional rollercoaster,” Rachelle Brown said.

“He’s been in excruciating pain, but Jason still has his sense of humor. He tried to joke with me on the phone yesterday,” Rachelle Brown said.

The details of the unit action that Brown was involved in on Thursday, during which he was wounded, remain unknown to the media as of press time on Wednesday.

The news of Brown’s injuries were first conveyed by family spokesman, George McClintock, at a press conference held at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7356, in Parkville, on Friday at 1:30 p.m.

“I received a phone call from Rachelle Brown, and she told me that her husband was shot in the lung by small arms in small unit action,” McClintock said.

McClintock, who described himself as a family friend of the Browns, who attends church with them at the First Christian Church of Platte City, initially served at Rachelle’s request, as the family spokesperson as news of Jason's injury spread.

“For an individual to serve his state as well as Jason does, and then to be called to active duty to serve his nation, is the most honorable thing any American can do,” McClintock said.

“I greatly appreciate what Jason’s family is going through right now, as my family must have gone through when I got hit in Vietnam,” McClintock said.

McClintock is a member of the Platte City Board of Aldermen and a decorated combat veteran himself—from the Vietnam War, where he served from 1967-1968. McClintock is a past commander of the VFW Post 4055 in Platte City.

“Having been a combat veteran myself, (Brown’s war injury) brought back a lot memories and feelings,” McClintock said.

“I think (the small unit action and injury) adds perspective for him as a legislator, as an American, as a citizen soldier. He’s done a heckuva job for his nation, his state and his country,” McClintock said.

Rachelle Brown said she and the Browns’ two children, Alayna and Caleb, have remained as calm as could be expected, given the circumstances.

“I think we’re on a prayer list in just about every state,” Rachelle said.

At the Shields Manor Bistro on Monday afternoon, Rachelle told the supportive crowd of about 40 people, many of whom attend church with the Browns and do volunteer work for his re-election campaign, that she wishes she could provide more specifics about the small unit action that resulted in his combat injuries, but she, just like Jason, is constrained from going into specifics about the actual combat action.

“I feel like I keep saying the same things over and over again. But I don’t have any more information,” she said.

U.S. 6th District Congressman Sam Graves also attended the Monday Jason Brown re-election fundraiser.

“We’ve got to do whatever we can do to send him back to the Missouri House,” said Congressman Graves. “He’s one of the hardest working and most effective legislators at the state house. And now he’s taken a bullet for his country.”

“I couldn’t be prouder of him,” Graves said.

In addition to serving as a state representative, Jason Brown owns a fence construction company and a homebuilding company.

Brown faces Democratic challenger Jared Welch, a judge advocate in the Missouri Air National Guard, in a bid to win a third consecutive term as Missouri 30th District state representative.

Welch issued a press release over the weekend.

“Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jason and his family. Being a military man gives me a unique appreciation for the commitment that Jason and all of our service members have shown in duty to our county. Pamela and I join everyone in offering him a safe and speedy recovery,” Welch stated.

 

 
 

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