I first visited the Tyler area over 30 years ago when I was a freshman at Texas A&M University, and since that visit I always wanted to live here. In 1999, we purchased a small business in Tyler, and I was finally able relocate to East Texas. Shortly after we purchased the business, my National Guard unit was mobilized for service as a stabilization force in Bosnia and I had to wait to actually live in the area. My first view of our new home was from a series of pictures my wife e-mailed to me with a message that said, “This is our new home in Lindale!”
Part of my responsibilities in Bosnia included organizing and returning Bosnian women to the place where their husbands had been killed. As part of an “ethnic cleansing” campaign, the Serbs had killed between 5,000-6,000 men in a town called Srebrenica. My assignment was to help plan and execute the return of these Bosnian women and children for their first visit to the location of the terrible event. Observing the women and children reliving the memories of those atrocities had a tremendous impact on me and instilled in me a much deeper appreciation for the blessings I have received in my life.
In 2005, I was again mobilized for active military service and served as a Brigade Commander in Iraq. My brigade was responsible for protecting logistics convoys throughout Iraq. Because of our mission, I traveled extensively throughout Iraq and I witnessed first hand the impact of war on a country and its people. Once again, my military experience made me keenly aware of how blessed I am to have such a wonderful family and to live in such a great community.
Family has always been important to me. I grew up in a traditional family where we sat down together for dinner, went to church on Sunday and spent much of our free time together. Since my military service requires me to be away often, family is a priority when I am home. One of our favorite family activities is spending time at our hunting lease. My daughter, Hannah and I hunt while my wife, Jane sits in a blind and takes amazing wildlife photos. Thanks to Jane, our family photographer and historian, we have boxes of family photos and our frequent trips are well documented.
When I returned from Bosnia to our new home in Lindale, I immediately became involved in the community. I ran for and was elected to the school board. Lindale ISD’s dual credit program with Tyler Junior College especially interested me. The program enables our students to gain credit toward both high school and college diplomas simultaneously. It has been great for our academically gifted students and it has helped lift our students to top levels statewide.
I also have a keen interest in technical education, as not everyone wants or needs an academic degree. In fact, our country has an oversupply of four-year liberal arts graduates while we have a shortage of people in high demand technical fields. Lindale ISD began working with TJC to expand both dual credit academic programs and dual credit technical programs and during this process is where I really got to know the exceptional educators and administrators from TJC. They have been great partners and are helping us produce outstanding citizens by offering programs of the highest quality.
This partnership has been an awakening for me. I originally was not a proponent of students beginning their post-secondary studies at a junior college. I personally followed high school by going straight to a four-year university and so did our two oldest daughters. After my recent experiences with TJC, I am convinced that TJC is absolutely the best route to success after high school. The professors are focused on teaching and mentoring the students. The TJC students do not get a teaching assistant who is working on a master’s degree. They get experienced and dedicated professors that hold master and doctoral degrees from the finest universities. The students are placed immediately in classes with limited enrollment where passionate instructors know their names and care about their future.
The quality of education offered at TJC is phenomenal and I have had the opportunity to observe this first hand. I now encourage my youngest daughter to plan on attending TJC immediately after her high school graduation. I believe the professionals at TJC will do an exceptional job of preparing her to succeed at the university she attends, and in whatever field she chooses.
I also serve as Chair of the Lindale Economic Development Corporation which has a strong interest in providing opportunity for our citizens. When we looked at options for bringing higher education to Lindale, TJC was the obvious choice. The TJC-Lindale satellite center opened last year and has been a huge success. In fact, we just completed plans for the opening of a nursing program in the fall of 2009.
TJC is helping us make Lindale the best place to raise and educate our children. The College has become part of our Lindale “extended family” by offering the courses and skills needed by those desiring to enhance their skills or change their lives, and ultimately build a brighter future for themselves and their families.
- Brigadier General James K. “Red” Brown received his military commission from Texas A&M University in May of 1980. He holds a master’s degree in Strategic Studies and is a graduate of the Army War College. Key assignments have included Assistant Chief of Staff for Civil Military Affairs in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Command of the 56th Brigade Combat Team during Operation Iraqi Freedom III. He commanded over 4,000 soldiers in Iraq. General Brown’s military awards include the Bronze Star and Combat Action Badge awarded in Iraq, the Legion of Merit, six Meritorious Service Medals, three Army Commendation Medals and numerous other awards. In civilian life, General Brown is the president and managing partner of Texas Water Systems and Ameri-Tex Drilling Company, both in Tyler. He is President of the Lindale Independent School District Board of Trustees, Chairman of the Lindale Economic Development Corporation, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of East Texas, Lindale Area Chamber of Commerce and is active in the Lindale First United Methodist Church.