By Ronald Bailey (SMDC/ARSTRAT)September 10, 2018
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama - A Redstone Arsenal Soldier, combat veteran and Wounded Warrior with U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command, reenlisted 30 feet underwater at the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, Huntsville, Alabama, Aug. 31.
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Brown, currently serving as the aide to USASMDC/ARSTRAT command sergeant major, was introduced to scuba diving as a part of adaptive rehabilitation following the loss of his left leg in 2007 during combat operations in Iraq. He chose the underwater venue of the Space & Rocket Center's Underwater Astronaut Trainer as a fitting location to marry his two passions, the Army and scuba diving.
"Scuba diving provides a pain-free environment for me to explore the wonders of the ocean, uninhibited by the burdens I feel on the surface from my disability," Brown said. "This ceremony is where I will dedicate the rest of my career to the needs of the Army."
Brown lost his leg in 2007 while deployed to Mosul, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Just 33 days into that deployment, he lost his left leg after being hit by an RKG-3 anti-tank grenade. Following the incident, he was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Hospital where he was taught to use a specially designed prosthetic leg to scuba dive. Since that time, Brown took advantage of his many Army assignments and personal leave to dive in places such as Puerto Rico, Greece, France and Italy.
Brown's ceremony was attended by members of Brown's family, SMDC Soldiers, coworkers, friends and members of the media. The officiating officer, Lt. Col. Gary Blount, read Brown the oath of enlistment using specialized full-face scuba masks with built-in communication. Following the underwater ceremony, Brown spoke to the gathered crowd and media on what scuba diving gave him after his injuries.
"It taught me to think outside the box, what my new normal could be. How many amputees do you know that go skydiving, scuba diving, rock climbing and mountain biking?" said Brown. "I had to readjust my idea of the word disabled, and I could not have done that without the support of my family and my friends."