FORT CARSON, Colo. — “I still remember the look my old man gave me when I told him I was going to enlist into the Army instead of the Marines,” said Spc. Brandon Charles Brown, an infantryman assigned to 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. “I just told him, ‘It is what it is."
Brown said growing up with two old-school Marine parents instilled good values into him from a young age. These values now shine through as a Soldier. Enlisting into the Marines felt like the right thing to do because of his family history — little did his parents know, he had slightly different plans.
“I grew up in a family with very rich military roots,” Brown said. “My parents were Marines, so it felt pretty natural to follow in their footsteps once I figured out college would be boring for me. I wanted to go out and do something a little adventurous, so I decided to take the step forward and join the Army.”
While Brown had already settled on enlisting into the U.S. Army, his father made the military sound a bit different than it actually turned out to be.
“He tried to sugarcoat it a little,” Brown said. “He let me know of some of the things I would see, but he left out a lot so I could experience it myself. After being able to experience some of those ‘a-ha’ moments, I now understand why my parents did the things they did. Getting that experience and then going forward made me see things differently that previously I hadn't even taken into consideration.”
Having been in the military for nearly three years now, Brown often looks back at the teachings and values his parents instilled into him.
“That real, old-school Marine Corps upbringing definitely influenced who I wanted to be as a Soldier,” said Brown. “It also impacted the way I view my leadership, how I treat the Soldiers under me and how I teach them.”
Brown's squad leader, Sgt. William Anthony Rizzo, an infantryman also assigned to 4th 4th Battalion, 9th Infantry Regiment, had a similar upbringing and shares a similar outlook as Brown.
“I definitely felt inspired to join because of my father and mother — both of them being Soldiers,” Rizzo said. “They carried themselves to a standard and I think that played a big role in who I am today. People who are prior military take the time to mentor. Whether it be their children or friends, they play a key role in their success in the military.”
Holding themselves to high standards is a quality both Brown and Rizzo attribute to their parents and their experience as leaders.
“One of the biggest values I see that we have in common is that he's willing to sacrifice his body and his personal time in order to get things done that normal people would just ignore,” said Brown. “I know he and I are very much like. When we get a task, whether it's our job to do it or not, it's going to get done because that's what we’re here to do.”
After experiencing different situations of his own and his Soldiers, Brown said he noticed a harmful stereotype of "being tough" in the military.
“You don't have to be,” he said. “Understand that a rigid system is not designed to break you down or make you a weaker person, but to make you tougher. Understanding and experiencing adversity, that is what’s going to help you become a better, stronger person.”
Learn more about the Army values and available career paths by visiting GoArmy.com.