Tara R. Jacobs Brown was a ray of sunshine. Her colleagues universally said she lit up the room when she entered, worked hard every day, and adored her family and Jesus.
Her former Command Chief, R. Max Grindstaff, said, “I very much enjoyed my time with her and I don’t need to remind you what a bright light she was, and how absolutely great a person and leader she was.”
Tara was 33 when she was shot and killed in Afghanistan. She had been married four months before her death.
The world has moved on from that era in history, but Tara’s legacy has not. Even in death, she is proof that there is always good in the world, and always a way to help those in need.
Deltona High School graduate, Class of 1995, U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Tara Jacobs Brown died April 27, 2011, in Afghanistan. The unthinkable happened when an Afghan pilot opened fire during an argument, killing eight airmen and one civilian. In an instant, the world changed for those families.
Locally, West Volusia mourned the loss of a shining star in our sky, who was working her way through college, and proudly serving her country.
The Volusia County Council recognized Nov. 5, 2012, as Master Sgt. Tara Jacobs Brown Day, and the road by her alma mater, Deltona High, was renamed to MSgt. Tara R. Jacobs Brown Avenue on April 18, 2016.
Remembering Tara Jacobs Brown in these ways is comfort to a community who will never forget her. But she was more than a street sign. Tara Jacob Brown gave her life to serve this country. The Master Sgt. Tara R. Jacobs Brown Scholarship was set up to be her legacy and continue her service.
A scholarship was established in 2012 to keep Tara’s memory going; not just her memory, but her enthusiasm for life and education, and her unwavering determination to help those around her.
Her father said he was inspired to start the scholarship after her memorial service. The articles and speeches published after her death talked, over and over, of how his daughter joyfully served her community as a volunteer and an airman. It gave him the strength to continue her mission.
In Afghanistan, in her last job, she was an educator — she served as an international trainer for computers and networking to Afghan air force technicians.
Maj. Pamela Jessen remembered Tara Jacobs Brown as a diligent and uplifting person who rose early to complete her college classes before starting her day. Jacobs Brown appreciated education for herself and for her students.
“She was ready to help the Afghan students do well,” Jessen said.
Chief Master Sgt. William Kelly, in his remarks at Brown’s memorial, also talked about her dedication to education. She said she was afraid some days, but make no mistake, that didn’t stop her.
“Master Sergeant Brown went outside-the-wire every day – in ABUs, armed with a 9 mm handgun and her lesson plans,” Kelly said. “Think about that for a moment. Gives a whole new meaning to the word ‘courageous.’”
Posthumously, she continues to serve Florida students.
High-school seniors in Florida can apply for a $1,000 scholarship. The Master Sgt. Tara R Jacobs Brown Scholarship Foundation said it aims to give 10 scholarships away annually.
The foundation needs the community to keep her light strong, and to help Jacobs Brown’s light illuminate new possibilities for new generations of students.
The 11th annual Master Sgt. Tara R. Jacobs Brown Scholarship Foundation Benefit will be 6-10 p.m. Saturday, July 29, at The Center at Deltona, 1640 Dr. Martin Luther King Blvd. in Deltona. Tickets cost $50 and include dinner and entertainment.
Entertainment will be provided by guest performer Rockie Lynne. Lynne is the founder of “Tribute to the Troops,” a national charitable organization inspired by his music video “Home.” Lynne’s single “Lipstick” spent 10 consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Country Singles Sales chart.
The July 29 event will also feature raffles, giveaways, and a 50/50 drawing, proceeds from which will go toward the scholarship fund.
To purchase tickets, and to learn more about Jacobs Brown’s life and legacy, visit tjbsf.org.
To learn more about Tribute to the Troops, visit www.tributetothetroops.org.
For more information about Rockie Lynne, visit www.rockielynne.com
A veteran of the United States Army (82nd Airborne, Fort Bragg, North Carolina), Rockie is the founder of a national charitable organization, Tribute to the Troops, now in its 19th year. Tribute to the Troops is dedicated to letting the families of all fallen service members know that their sacrifice is not forgotten. The organization has raised over a million dollars for a college fund providing tuition assistance for children who have lost a parent on active duty.
To date they have opened 529 College Savings Plans for 116 children in five states.
Rockie Lynne’s debut single, “Lipstick,” spent an impressive 10 consecutive weeks in the No. 1 slot on Billboard’s Country Singles Sales chart.
Rockie’s original compositions have been played in an Emmy Award-winning public television special, and CBS Criminal Minds and Fox NFL Sunday broadcasts.
He has performed around the world, and his charities have raised more than $1 million for the children of fallen soldiers.
“It’s an honor to touch people with my music,” Rockie says. “But my real mission is to use that connection to make something good happen in this world.”
Tribute to the Troops was inspired by a spontaneous cavalcade of motorcycle riders visiting the homes of families who lost a loved one on active duty. Since then, Lynne has found a way to stay involved with his fellow soldiers. He has performed for wounded troops at The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, and at military bases around the world.
“Rockie doesn’t sing to our troops — he sings as one of them,” said his wife, Susan Levy Rash.
For more information, visit rockielynne.com.