ADAZI, Latvia – U.S. Army Spc. Jereece Brown, a 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade combat medic, has a passion for serving others and sharing his knowledge.
During the summer, while deployed to Europe, Brown dedicated his time to instructing first-aid techniques and sharing his medical knowledge at two Latvian school camps. The initial event took place July 26 at Viedokļu Līderu Skola in Rēzekne, Latvia, followed by a second event September 8 at Zaļā Klase in Sarkaņkalns, Latvia.
In total, Brown interacted with approximately 800 children and adults, ranging in ages from six to 25, while imparting invaluable lessons in basic first-aid. His instruction empowered the young Latvians with life-saving skills that will serve them well in a medical emergency.
U.S. Army 1st Lt. James Wong, a civil affairs officer, with Alpha Company, 432nd Civil Affairs Battalion, supporting 3rd Infantry Division, said, “The training that took place in Sarkaņkalns is particularly impactful as it is the first time students from that region have been in contact with an American Soldier.”
Wong said Sarkaņkalns is in Latgale, home to a significant Russian-speaking population. He emphasized the importance with building relationships with Latvians of all different backgrounds.
"By engaging with Russian-speaking communities in Latgale, we can build trust and understanding, and promote a sense of community in Latvia," Wong said.
The first-aid training sessions, conducted in two phases, catered to different age groups, with one session tailored for 13-25 year-olds and another for children around the age of six.
Brown's passionate and engaging teaching style resonated with the group.
According to Brown, the training included the use of splints, improvised splints, tourniquets, bandaging, and preventing injuries. The students, often immersed in an active outdoor lifestyle that includes hiking and wilderness exploration, recognized the immediate practicality of the skills they were acquiring.
“They were like, ‘Wow, I didn’t know that,’” Brown said, “‘If I actually was in this type of situation, I could actually help my friends!’”
Brown's enthusiasm for caring for others is something he has fostered since he was young.
Born in Jamaica with few resources available to his family, Brown displayed a high degree of compassion and empathy from an early age, always caring for those around him.
“I always had an interest in health care,” Brown said, “I like the idea of taking care of people, and helping them with their medical issues.”
His family eventually immigrated to New Jersey in search of a better future. Brown later attained an associate degree in health science and joined the U.S. Army in 2020. He was granted citizenship as part of his enlistment.
Motivated by his modest beginnings and innate empathy, Brown seized the opportunity to become a combat medic where he now serves with 2nd Battalion, 3rd General Support Aviation Regiment, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division.
Brown’s optimistic outlook on life and willingness to volunteer, significantly bolstered the community outreach efforts of Task Force Marne, enhancing host nation relationships, and fostering interagency engagement.
“Spc. Brown provided exceptional instruction,” Wong said. “He was a valuable addition to our team.”
According to Wong, Brown’s superb first-aid instruction and enthusiastic engagement struck a chord with the Latvian attendees.
“Spc. Brown engaged and taught hundreds of students young and old at this event, who enjoyed the engaging and exciting instruction that he provided,” Wong said. “He was also very popular, with a lot of the youth waiting in line to take photos with him.”
The training was very well received by the students, Brown said, highlighting the students' inquisitiveness and genuine interest.
“It was a very humbling experience,” Brown added. “They found our training cool with many kids coming up asking, ‘Hey, can you show me how to do this?’”
According to Wong, Brown is a natural at connecting with the community, stating that his efforts left a very good impression with our international partners.
One poignant moment during the training was when a young student named Leon, thankful for the knowledge imparted by Spc. Brown, presented him with a coin as a heartfelt token of gratitude.
Brown keeps the coin in his uniform pocket, closest to his heart, as a constant reminder of the impact he’s made on the Latvian people and the connection he has formed with them. These connections are essential to the strong relationship between the U.S. and Latvia.
Brown reflected on his experience and the impact interacting with the Latvian community had on him.
“I expected to be in the field every day,” Brown said, “But instead my mind is full of memories of the kids, the locals, and getting a glimpse of how they live.”
“The kids have all of their future in front of them,” Brown said, “It feels good knowing the training I gave them will help them feel more confident if a medical emergency were to happen.”