Army intelligence photog to speak Saturday
Published in Cape Coral Daily Breeze March 13, 2015 issue
A U.S. Army intelligence photographer, who served in the 1st Infantry Division “The Big Red One,” will speak at the Northwest Regional Library on Saturday about her experience.
Rebeca Brown, who moved to Southwest Florida from Los Angeles 10 months ago, joined the Army in 1980 and served until 1984.
“I wanted to join the Army because I wanted to travel the world and take photos,” she said. “I really love my country.”
Brown recalls that one of the biggest issues in the 1980s was a couple female congresswomen saying women should not be a part of the military.
“I was raised that you could do whatever you want in life,” she said. “I was part of the feminist movement that helped women work in nontraditional positions.”
As an intelligence photographer Brown had many jobs. She flew in planes and helicopters and took aerial photographs of the terrain for the government, as well as photographs of the ground terrain in auxiliary tanks.
Brown flew in the SR71, which had cameras in the belly of the plane. She recalls flying over hostile combatants while in the SR71.
“You put on this jumpsuit and put on a diaper,” she said. “In a blink of an eye you could go anywhere to take photos.”
Some of the aerials were, both in the air and on the ground. of the Russian borders. She also took pictures of large community areas through which people would walk.
Large bodies of water and related terrain were also photographed, in case troops had to go through.
One of the experiences that really stuck out from Brown was while she was stationed in Germany. She spent time with the auxiliary unit riding in tanks to take photos.
“If we had a conflict and NATO had to move in the troops, we would need to know the depth of how to get our troops over,” Brown said.
During that time she also took aerial reconnaissance over the Berlin Wall.
The veteran also enjoyed taking photographs of Hitler’s bunkers. She said not only did she have to take photographs of the artwork and other common items, but she also had to make duplicates of his horrible crimes for the government.
Some of those photographs included the guillotine and shooting of Jewish people against the wall.
Brown, who had top secret clearance, said there were times she was not in uniform when she went to other countries.
The government would drop a portable photo lab by helicopter wherever she was, so she could process the film and give it to one of the generals.
“It was a good experience, an awesome experience for me,” Brown said.
After the military, she became a law enforcement officer for the state of California. From there she earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology, as well as a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business.
While in California she worked as a specialist with children between the ages of 5 to 18 who had signs of becoming serial killers. Brown said she would teach them empathy, love and how to connect to the community, so they would have some type of connection.
“Then I became a program director with Phoenix Health in Los Angeles for the probation department,” she said.
Brown created and implemented programs that dealt with such issues as substance abuse and cognitive behavior. She said she would be contacted to go to the prisons. Brown also would hire staff for youth camps and teach them how to connect with kids and mentor them, so they would sustain goals to attend college.
She is currently a member of the Cape Coral VFW Post #8463, Cape Coral VFW Post #8463 Honor Guard, American Legion Post #90 and the American Legion Riders Florida Chapter #90. She is also a volunteer at the Pine Island Museum.
“Eventually I will start again, either try to work with veterans and kids,” Brown said.
Brown will speak at the Northwest Regional Library at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 14.
“I am hoping I get a good turnout,” she said.
In addition to sharing her experience, Brown also wants to share the message that as long as you dream about want you want in the future, you always have a goal to work for. She said it is also very important to teach kids about patriotism.
Brown is speaking on behalf of the SW FL. Military Museum & Library.