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Former basic training instructor fulfills dream to practice law

Senior Master Sgt. Alex Brown, front, leads the Arizona Air National Guard’s 161st Air Refueling Wing during a march at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., Dec. 7, 2014. Brown’s prior experience as military training instructor made him the unit’s resident expert on drill and ceremonies and gave him skills that, he said, helped him graduate from law school. Brown recently passed the Arizona bar exam and fulfilled a personal dream to become an attorney. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Courtney Enos)

Senior Master Sgt. Alex Brown, front, leads the Arizona Air National Guard’s 161st Air Refueling Wing during a march at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Ariz., Dec. 7, 2014. Brown’s prior experience as military training instructor made him the unit’s resident expert on drill and ceremonies and gave him skills that, he said, helped him graduate from law school. Brown recently passed the Arizona bar exam and fulfilled a personal dream to become an attorney. (U.S. Air National Guard photo/Tech. Sgt. Courtney Enos)

PHOENIX (AFNS) -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series. These stories focus on individual Airmen, highlighting their Air Force story.)

For Senior Master Sgt. Alex Brown, a 20-year Air Force veteran and Arizona Air National Guard member, a lifelong calling to practice law set him upon an arduous journey to fulfill a dream. That dream recently became reality when he passed the Arizona bar exam.

The newly-minted licensed attorney is currently the material management superintendent for the 161st Logistics Readiness Squadron at the 161st Air Refueling Wing here.

"I knew I wanted to be a lawyer since I was in high school. It's never too late to follow your dreams," Brown said. "When I found out that I passed the bar exam, I was overwhelmed with joy, and the first thing I did was call my mother."

Earlier in his career, Brown served as a military training instructor (MTI) at Air Force basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

"Being an MTI was one of the most rewarding jobs in my Air Force career," Brown said. As an instructor he worked up to 18 hours a day, and he said the experience taught him time management, among other skills.

"One of the things I learned as an MTI was the ability to speak in front of people. I eventually became more comfortable because I had to consistently talk in front of 65 trainees without hesitating," he said. "When you make your opening and closing argument in court, you are essentially telling a story to the judge or jury and you have to have emotion in your story if you want them to find in your favor."

After joining the Arizona Air National Guard, Brown enrolled in Arizona Summit Law School in Phoenix. He served full time in logistics while attending classes at night. The rigors of study and internships eventually compelled him to resign his full-time job in his last year of law school, though he continued to serve in the unit part time.

While in law school, Brown participated in a family law clinic, which exposed him to representing clients in court. He also took part in a municipal prosecution externship, which enabled him to prosecute criminal cases under the auspices of an Arizona licensed attorney. The experience made him want to be a prosecutor for the city of Phoenix.

Fellow squadron member Tech. Sgt. Travis Orr described Brown as an inspirational figure who has influenced both his civilian and military aspirations. "Senior Master Sergeant Brown is a leader and people gravitate toward him because of his knowledge about life," Orr said.

Orr added that Brown is a "very smart and determined individual who has a positive way with people."

First Lt. Michelle Schwimmer, a logistics officer in the squadron, said that Brown has passion for his work that’s driven by professionalism and perfection.

"The unit was consumed with pride when he passed the bar exam," Schwimmer said. "He exemplifies leadership characteristics that motivate Airmen to always do the right thing."

Lt. Col. Paul Aguirre, the 161st Logistics Readiness Squadron commander, has known Brown for over a decade and described him as an Airman's Airman.

"Senior Master Sgt. Brown takes the utmost pride in wearing the uniform, and his military bearing is beyond reproach," Aguirre said. "His expertise and passion for airmanship has an astounding and influential impact on the organization."

Brown will soon achieve perhaps another lifelong dream later this year when he is promoted to chief master sergeant, the Air Force's highest enlisted rank, Aguirre said.

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