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May 27, 2024

To Commemorate Memorial Day, King Interviews Army Helicopter Mechanic

Interview will be contributed to the Veterans History Project, a Library of Congress project, to preserve the stories of American veterans

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On this Memorial Day, U.S. Senator Angus King, a member of the Senate Veterans Affairs (SVAC) and Armed Services Committees (SASC), released his latest episode of “Answering the Call: Maine’s Veteran Voices.” In the 14th interview of the series, produced in partnership with the Library of Congress’ Veterans History Project, Senator King spoke with Leslie Brown of Presque Isle. Brown was a U.S. Army jet engine mechanic who served for nearly three decades and faced two deployments during Operation Enduring Freedom. During the interview, King asked Brown about her experiences serving at Army installations across the world and her work today supporting veterans in northern Maine.

“Leslie’s story is one that inspires and embodies the selfless service of so many of our veterans,” said Senator King. “Following in the footsteps of her father, an Air Force mechanic, Leslie succeeded in her field and became a highly respected leader. Today, she still continues to serve by supporting her fellow veterans back home in Maine. As we commemorate Memorial Day, we honor and recognize all the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice, as well as thank our heroes back here at home, like Leslie. It is a privilege to share these stories of unwavering dedication to our country.”

Leslie Brown grew up in Woodland, Maine, the daughter of an Air Force mechanic. After graduating Caribou High School, Leslie briefly attended the University of Maine Fort Kent and later went on to enlist in the Army where she began training to become a jet engine mechanic, following in the footsteps of her father.

After completing training, Brown was sent to Germany where she served as helicopter mechanic for nearly six years. During her tour in Germany, she witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, met her husband and welcomed two children.

After her tour ended in Germany, the family moved back stateside to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. After leaving Kentucky, Brown’s career took her all across the country: Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia; Schofield Barracks in Honolulu, Hawai’i; Fort Drum in Jefferson County, New York and Fort Irwin in San Bernardino County, California.

She also was stationed twice in South Korea — both times were considered “hardship tours” where she went alone and her family remained stateside The first tour was in the late 1990s, and, during her second tour a few years later, she was in charge of a helicopter engine shop but also had additional duties such as teaching English to Korean soldiers who assisted the Army.

During her career, Brown was deployed two times to Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. The first time she was deployed to Forward Operating Base Salerno where she helped with humanitarian aid efforts and her unit was awarded humanitarian medals for their work. During her second deployment, Leslie received news that her husband had passed away. She immediately returned to the states where her son was finishing high school and her daughter had recently enlisted in the Army. After her son graduated high school, Brown returned to Afghanistan to finish out her deployment. After her tour in Afghanistan ended, she made the decision to retire and moved back to northern Maine.

Today, Brown serves as a veterans outreach program counselor with the Maine Department of Labor where she has opportunity to work directly with veterans like herself — connecting them to support and resources at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (VA) and within the northern Maine community.

The Veterans History Project is an effort by the Library of Congress to collect, preserve and distribute the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. The interviews and primary documents from the project are then used by researchers, historians, students, and filmmakers across the country. Senator King joins many other members of Congress who’ve participated in the project.

Representing one of the states with the highest rates of veterans per capita, Senator King is a staunch advocate for America’s servicemembers and veterans. Senator King uses this interview series to learn and share the stories of the lives, service, and sacrifices of Maine’s veteran community. He has been among the Senate’s most prominent voices on the need to address veterans suicide, and has repeatedly pressed for action from top Department of Defense officials on this issue. An advocate for amplifying veteran voices, Senator King held a field hearing focusing on long-term care in Maine. Additionally, he recently led a bipartisan letter calling for more support for victims of military sexual trauma, as well as a letter urging further investments in traumatic brain injury research, the signature wound of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

You can watch previous episodes of “Answering the Call: Maine’s Veteran Voiceshere.


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