CMSgt. William Kelly
I am William Kelly and I am a Special Agent assigned to the Directorate of Personnel. I first met Tara when she was assigned to the Directorate of Operations. I was immediately impressed with her knowledge and attitude. Later, after she was assigned to the DP she was often in my office, usually fixing something I had broken. In return, I was often in her office where she was staying late, working a task or studying – sometimes both – telling her to go home, which she routinely ignored.
Prior to her deployment we spoke about her mission and the environment in which she would be working. Sgt. Brown and I discussed her fears; she was concerned about working in a potentially hostile area and being a training advisor. But Tara always said she was looking forward to the challenge.
The weeks before Sgt. Brown died, she and I exchanged some emails. I asked about what she would like in a care package: dark chocolate, sunflower seeds and fruit rollups.
We chatted about the price of gas, my upcoming retirement, and about a big barracuda my wife had seen at our retirement home in Florida. She asked if I had a picture.
MSgt. Brown and I also discussed her status: How was she doing? How were her students? Tara told me “Sometimes I am a little frightened because you never know…” She went on to say “I still come to work every day and teach them about computer systems, trouble tickets, and how to respond. Let me repeat: “Sometimes I am frightened, but I still come to work every day.” That is courage in it’s truest form.
As Agents, we are highly trained and we have a detailed plan for every outside-the-wire mission. As Agents, we plan for the worst and hope for the best. When we go outside the wire, we are carrying multiple weapons and wearing the best personal protective equipment available. Often we are rolling out with the most highly-skilled and experienced combat operators in the world.
MSgt. Brown went outside-the-wire every day – in ABU’s, armed with a 9mm handgun and her lesson plans. Think about that for a moment. Gives a whole new meaning to the word “courageous.” And make no mistake about it: MSgt. Brown had courage: she was courageous every day.
Tara wen on to say “I really enjoy what I am doing over here; the only problem is the uncertainty of death.”
The uncertainty of death. Courage is not the absence of fear, rather, it is the opposite. It is the acknowledgment of risk, the acceptance of being afraid, yet continuing to move onward in spite of fear or risk.
MSgt. had courage. Quiet, professional courage. Courage to be emulated. Courage worth honoring. Tara’s last words to me were words I will never forget: “I can tell you what, after being here and working with the Afghans every day, I realize now more than ever, that I am blessed to have a family that loves me, blessed to have a place called home when I leave here, and blessed to have an opportunity to see a barracuda with big teeth.”
MSgt. Brown was a courageous senior non-commissioned officer, and I will remember her always.
Andrews Air Force Base, MD
May 9th, 2011
Thank you for proclaiming November 5th 2012 as “Tara Jacobs Brown Day” – it is fitting that Volusia County recognize her sacrifice and honor her memory.
I had the distinct pleasure of working closely with Master Sergeant Brown during the years she was assigned to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. She was always an expert in her assigned duties, professional and friendly in all her actions and her constant smile was always a bright beacon of joy in our lives.
After Tara’s death in Afghanistan, I was asked to serve as her official escort from Dover Air Force Base, through the ceremony honoring and to her final resting place. It was my honor to do so, but it was truly the hardest task I ever had to perform during my twenty-nine years of service to our Air Force.
Again, I thank you for honoring Master Sergeant Tara Jacobs Brown, a proud and courageous Air Force Senior Non-Commissioned Officer, and a true American Hero.
Chief Master Sergeant William Kelly, USAF (Ret)
Throughout my life, I’ve had the opportunity to meet, and sometimes work with Heros: POW’s, Medal of Honor recipients, survivors of extreme ordeals…many of whom displayed great courage when they found themselves in dire straits and rose to the occasion.
But Tara displayed a courage of a different sort.
Before she left for Afghanistan, Tara and I discussed her deployment a number of times – as an “old agent”, I had counter intelligence training and experience. In my office, Tara was forthright and direct – she was afraid of being killed by one of her Afghan students or co-workers. A fear she repeated in an email exchange just days before her fear came true.
But, despite her fear, instead of her fear, without giving in or giving up – Master Sergeant Tara Jacobs Brown faced her fear and went forward to Kabul with her head up, her eyes open and a smile on her face – and the love of God and family in her heart.
In her last email to me, she wrote – ” I realize now more than ever that I am blessed to have a family that loves me, blessed to have a place called home when I leave here…”
Pure Courage – nothing more, nothing less.