Fresno Soldier's Worldwide Service

May 29, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
An estimated 370,000 men and women are serving in the U.S. military, not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but in countless outposts around the world.After three years of Army life, a duel at the family pool table is just what this father and son needed.

Blake Brown had enlisted for two years, but just as his military commitment was to expire his unit was deployed. The young husband and new father was headed overseas.

Like thousands of military couples a year of separation stretched out in front of them.

His training was in force protection and search and rescue. "When people think of the army, they think Iraq, Afghanistan, we're killers, but we're helping people too," said Blake Brown.

Brown can't say exactly where in the troubled sub-Sahara of Africa he was, but the area is home to Somalia and the threat of East African Al Qaeda. People in the area are constantly struggling to keep themselves and their stock alive. "Their money is their livestock; you know they have their goats and their cattle," said Blake.

His protection detail kept things safe for Army personnel who brought and taught villages modern animal care. "It was a good thing for the African people we helped and it helped our marriage and now I'm home with my beautiful wife and children and I can't complain."

For this couple the year of being apart brought them closer together. Both know for the next five-years the Army could call him back to active duty.

For now Blake is headed to the police academy in January and looking for work in the meantime. On the day Action News visited with this family, his mom, charlotte, was working at her teaching job. Last week she was working for American troops all over the world as one of the Fresno Area Blue Star Moms. She and her husband both talk with great pride about their son's service and his future. "It's nice to just sit back and watch him take charge. You know, your son's growing up to be the man you thought he would be and that's good," said Blake's father Richard Brown.

Where you end up when you sign up isn't a given in today's military, but this is one soldier who believes the sacrifice was worth it.

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