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Midway vet saw heavy combat in Vietnam
Treasures of Midway
Jack Brown stands behind the counter at his Midway gun shop. - photo by Photo by Matt Norsworth
“Welcome, what can I do for you?”
That’s what you will hear as soon as you walk inside Midway Guns and Repairs on Highway 84. But I wasn’t there for the guns. I was there to meet Sgt. 1st Class Jack Brown (retired).
Brown has been working for Dick Lonsdale, owner of Midway Guns and Repairs, and military veteran, for nine years now. Yet, like a lot of veterans, this is a second career for Brown.
He was drafted into the Army in 1966 from his hometown of Albion, N.Y. to go to Vietnam. Ge was trained in the Army to work on and operate military boats.
Brown then served two tours in Vietnam, one from 1967-68 and another from 1971-72. He served in the 5th Heavy Boat Company and fought in the Tet Offensive at Saigon Bridge in 1968, seeing some of the heaviest combat of the war.
The Tet Offensive was the largest military assault by the North Vietnamese at that point in the war.
In his 1971-72 tour, Brown served in the 458 PBR Unit that was an Army patrol boat unit for the rivers of Vietnam, similar to those used by the Navy. This was one of Brown’s favorite times in his military career because he really loved operating and working on the boats.
After Vietnam, Brown was placed in a unit that had to move the 1097 Trans Company from Fort Eustis, VA to Panama. He then served for three years in Panama.
In 1986, he was stationed in Holland for three years at the USMCA Netherlands.  This was also one of Brown’s most memorable times in his military career. “Holland was a great place, great people and a beautiful country. They really loved Americans over there,” he said.
Brown returned to the United States after Holland and was stationed at Fort Stewart. He retired from the Army with the rank of SGT 1st Class at Fort Stewart in 1989.  
Brown led the “retired” life for about two years before going to work at Midway Guns. He moved to Midway with his wife and two dogs, and basically went fishing day in and day out. Brown and his wife loved the people and the weather, and those were the biggest factors in making Midway their home ever since.
Brown notes there are differences between the military now versus when he served. For one, they are volunteers as opposed to draftees, like when he first started. But he also likes how soldiers today deploy as a unit. Soldiers came and went individually when their one-year tours were up in Vietnam. But now they come and go together after their 15 months.
Brown recommends to all soldiers to stay in the military for the great retirement benefits, if nothing else. A recommendation he even gave his son, who serves in the Air Force, with a wife and three kids, and has eight years left before retirement.
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