JCOC: 'Machine Gun Annie' Awed by Military
By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
U.S. NAVAL BASE GUAM, Guam, Nov. 7, 2007 Ann Brown gripped the handle of a .50-caliber machine gun that appeared to be larger than her slight frame. Peering down the sights, she squeezed off a five-round burst in less than a second.
Taken aback by the sudden burst, Brown, president of a graphic design company in Colorado, looked up as if shocked and then laughed, almost embarrassed. She said she didn’t realize it would fire that many rounds so fast.
Her companions in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference quickly, and jokingly, dubbed her “Machine Gun Annie.”
“There’s a jolt from it, but more than that, I was amazed at how quickly I could shoot out five shots. That really shocked me. Plus, when I realized that each shot can go 3,000 feet, … that’s really scary,” Brown said.
Brown is one of nearly 40 civilians who traveled here as part of the JCOC on the first stop of a week-long expedition to U.S. Pacific Command. Today is their second day on the island, and it has been packed with hands-on, adrenaline-pumping activities that would make many civilians envious.
The day started with an overview of U.S. Naval Forces Marianas, which oversees the Navy’s largest island base in the Western Pacific. The island is home to more than 160,000 residents and 12,000 servicemembers and families.
Ann L. Brown, president of New Vista Image, Golden, Colo., marshals in an ambulance for an aerial evacuation during the 74th Joint Civilian Orientation Conference’s visit to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Nov. 6, 2007. Photo by Tech. Sgt. Jerry Morrison, USAF
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The brief was the only “static” part of the day. Afterward, participants were treated to machine-gun firing, a security demonstration complete with a mock would-be suicide bomber, an explosives demonstration using a high-tech robot, and a boat ride zipping across the bay.
The group climbed high onto the captain’s deck of the guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen and descended into the depths of the nuclear attack submarine USS Buffalo. They also lunched with sailors.
Brown, president of New Vista Image in Golden, Colo., said she was in awe of the activities and the sailors. “I love all of the adventure and excitement. And then, every once in a while, I have to stop and think about the seriousness of why all of this exists,” she said.
She said the dedication and loyalty of the servicemembers made the biggest impression on her. Brown also said she was surprised by the number of servicemembers with families.
“Every single person I’ve asked has small children. It just tells you that it’s more than just the servicemen and women, it’s their families as well, who are involved in this,” she said.
Because she serves on the board of the U.S. Army War College Foundation, a nonprofit group that works to enrich programs and research activities of the War College, in Carlisle, Pa., Brown said, she is familiar with the Army. She came to the conference to become more familiar with the other branches of service and how they interact. She was nominated to come by a former conference attendee. Before she was nominated, Brown said, she’d never even heard of the conference.
“I had no idea what it is. Most people I talk to have no idea what it is. So I was just excited beyond belief when I heard about it,” she said.
Now she is gaining a broader understanding of the Defense Department and its servicemembers. “I didn’t know that we had so much ammunition here (in Guam). I didn’t realize the strategic importance like I should have,” Brown said. “Something that I didn’t know I will take back will probably be our scope of operations and how many different ways we protect ourselves with how many different devices and branches and groups (there are).”
In her encounters with the Army, Brown is used to dealing with older officers, because students and faculty at the War College are all lieutenant colonels and above. Here, she was surprised by how young the majority of the servicemembers are. “There is so much responsibility and authority for people in their 20s. That surprised me,” she said.
Because of her experiences so far in the Joint Civilian Orientation Conference, Brown said, she will go home with a renewed sense of military support and become more active in creating an awareness of the military, its role and those who serve.
“I think I’m going to be more active than I have been. I’ve been a little bit low-key about it. But now I have more to say, … and I belong to some groups where I want to get some military speakers in,” she said. “I will be more active when I go back, because I really believe in this.”