For Noblesville resident Todd Brown, serving in the U.S. military is a family affair. His father and older brother served in the Army, and from a young age he aspired to follow in their footsteps.
A member of the Indiana Army National Guard, Brown, 54, was recently promoted to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 5 — the highest rank in the warrant rank structure. As a Chief Warrant Officer 5, Brown is a technical expert in ground maintenance for army equipment.
Brown, who serves with the 38th Infantry Division, was promoted Sept. 29 in Indianapolis during a celebration with his wife, Cristina, and two children, Jack and Lucy.
Brown said he is the only Chief Warrant Officer 5 in the 38th Infantry Division of the Indiana Army National Guard. Only one other service member in Indiana has the rank.
“(It) just feels like I always wanted to serve, and it was just something that meant a lot to me, personally, to wear the uniform of my country, which sounds cliche, but that’s just who I am,” Brown said. “It’s how I was raised and what I believe in.”
Brown said he joined the U.S. Marine Corps when he was 17. Only two days after he graduated from high school, he went to San Diego for boot camp. He said finishing boot camp was a special moment in his life.
“August 14, 1987. I remember that day because it’s the day I graduated from boot camp,” he said. “So, every year that turns, I feel like it’s a very significant day in my life. Even though I’ve been in the National Guard Army for 30-plus years, that was kind of where I started. That was where I came from.”
In 1987, he enlisted in the Marine Corps as an electronics repairman. When he moved back to Indiana in 1993, his dad, an Indiana Army National Guard veteran, convinced him to join the Indiana Army National Guard.
Brown has a civilian job at Indiana National Guard headquarters in Indianapolis during the week and drills with the Guard on weekends. He makes sure maintenance is performed on equipment, among other responsibilities.
“I was always fascinated with the troubleshooting aspect of if something was broken, why was it broken? Why was it not working, figuring out the ‘why’ behind it,” Brown said.
Brown, a native of Middletown, said he has always been fascinated by mechanics, even when he was a student at Shenandoah High School.
In 2006, Brown decided he wanted to be a warrant officer after moving through the enlisted ranks. He said there is a selection process, with additional training, to becoming a warrant officer. He was a Chief Warrant Officer 4 before his recent promotion.
Brown said he appreciates the support of his wife, Cristina, and his parents, who — after each of his promotions — have had to step up and take care of things at home when he was away or in training.
“It was something that honestly I did not expect,” Brown said. “I was very proud of being a W-4 and I thought that was it because that’s an immense accomplishment in itself, just the W-4 rank in general. The W-5 rank was just beyond my expectations of my career goals.”
‘THE UNICORN RANK’
Danny Riley, sergeant major and G-4 senior maintenance manager for the 38th Infantry Division, works with Brown and helps him with reports for drill weekend. Riley is also a manager of one of the maintenance shops for his civilian job, and Brown is the person he reaches out to when he needs something work-related.
Riley said Brown always plans ahead with regard to meeting the needs of the division. Riley was delighted to hear of Brown’s promotion.
“W-5 is just something amazing. A lot of guys in the military, they call it the unicorn rank,” Riley said. “It’s a mythical creature. You don’t see it that often, so to have that right here for my advantage, to be able to utilize that, it’s just a great thing to be able to have going on right now.”