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Soldier Killed in Orlando Remembered as Officer Who Put Troops First

  • Army Reserve Capt. Antonio Davon "Tony" Brown. Army photo
    Army Reserve Capt. Antonio Davon "Tony" Brown. Army photo
  • This undated image shows Omar Mateen, who authorities say killed dozens of people inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday, June 12, 2016. (MySpace via AP)
    This undated image shows Omar Mateen, who authorities say killed dozens of people inside the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday, June 12, 2016. (MySpace via AP)

Army Reserve Capt. Antonio Davon "Tony" Brown, who joined the service three years before the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy against openly gay service was scrapped, is believed to be the only fatality with a service connection in the Orlando nightclub mass shooting.

Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Tuesday the military was as yet unaware of any other members of the military or veterans among the 49 patrons of the Pulse nightclub who were gunned down early Sunday morning by a shooter police identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen.

Matt Thorn, executive director of OutServe-Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, also said he did not know of any other service member or veteran among the 49 killed or 53 wounded on "Latin" night at the nightclub frequented by members of the LGBT community in Orlando.

A survivor of the attack was 24-year-old Imran Yousuf, a Marine veteran of Afghanistan and a bouncer at the club, who leaped over a bar during the shooting to unlatch a door and allow dozens to escape, according to CBS News.

"I wish I could have saved more, to be honest," he told CBS. "There are a lot of people that are dead.

"There was only one choice," Yousuf added. "Either we all stay there and we all die, or I could take the chance, and I jumped over to open that latch and we got everyone that we can out of there."

The 30-year-old Brown, who was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 383rd Regiment, 4th Cavalry Brigade, 85th Support Command, based in St. Louis, was fatally shot at about 2 a.m. during the rampage by Mateen, the 85th Support Command of the Army Reserves said in a statement.

"Capt. Tony Brown was a loyal and dutiful United States Army Reserve officer who truly cared about the soldiers in his charge," said Lt. Col. Kevin Dasher, commander of the 3-383rd. "In his career with the 3-383rd, he faced any and all challenges with a smile on his face, and an unwavering spirit that everyone in our unit cherished. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with his family in this time of tragedy."

Brown, 30, with his home of record listed as Orlando, graduated from Florida (A&M) Agricultural and Mechanical University with his undergraduate degree in criminal justice. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant on August 8, 2008. In 2010, he received his master's degree in business administration from the University of Mary, North Dakota.

Brown was a member of the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) while at Florida A&M, the university said in a statement, and "he is being remembered fondly by classmates and fellow alumni.

"In the meantime, the Florida A&M University community stands with the entire Orlando community in the wake of tragedy," the university said. "Our thoughts, and prayers for peace, are with everyone in central Florida and across this nation."

Following his commission, Brown was assigned to the 642nd Combat Support Group in Decatur, Georgia. In May 2009, he served on active duty with the 1st Special Troop Battalion, Fort Riley, Kansas. It was during that assignment with the battalion that Brown served an 11-month overseas deployment to Kuwait, the Army Reserve said.

Brown was promoted to captain on March 6, 2012, and was reassigned to the 642nd Combat Support Group in May 2012. He transferred to the 2nd battalion, 350th Regiment, at Camp Blanding, Florida, in August 2012, and in November 2013 he was assigned to the 3-383rd, 85th Support Command as an Observer-Controller/Trainer Platoon Leader. Brown served as a Troop Program Unit soldier.

His awards and decorations include a Meritorious Service Medal, two Army Achievement Medals, two Army Reserve Component Achievement Medals, the National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Overseas Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal with "M" Device and the Army Service Ribbon.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said he was "deeply saddened" by the news that Brown was killed in the attack.

"Capt. Antonio Davon Brown served his country for nearly a decade, stepping forward to do the noblest thing a young person can do, which is to protect others," he said in a statement. "His service both at home and overseas gave his fellow Americans the security to dream their dreams, and live full lives. The attack in Orlando was a cowardly assault on those freedoms, and a reminder of the importance of the mission to which Capt. Brown devoted his life. "The men and women of the Department of Defense grieve with Capt. Brown's family and with all of the families and loved ones impacted by this tragedy," Carter added. "We stand with the people of Orlando and the nation's LGBT community during this difficult time, and stand in determination to defeat ISIL and prevent the spread of its hateful ideology."

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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