Soldier surprise: 2 veteran Buckeyes reunite at Ohio State
|Former Buckeyes reunite after serving together in Iraq in 2007|
Ten years, two countries and two very different lives separate former Buckeye football player Joe Brown and his former Army commander, Lt. Col. Eddie Sedlock. But a return trip to The Ohio State University led to an emotional reunion between the two men.
“Joe was an enlisted guy and I was the officer in the company and I relied on him a ton,” Sedlock said.On Friday, Brown was the guest speaker at the 2017 Ohio State Army ROTC Military Ball. The reunion, 10 years after the two men had served together in combat, was a surprise arranged by the Army ROTC.
For Brown, it has been a long, and sometimes dangerous, road back to Ohio State. He played for the Buckeyes until he graduated in 2001 and launched his pro career with the Seattle Seahawks.
“I was your typical, self-absorbed college athlete and someone who had a lot of growing to do,” Brown said.
Following the terror attacks of September 11, Brown felt called to serve and walked away from the NFL.
“I found myself, during my first two years in the NFL, wanting to serve my country,” he said. “I didn’t want to be 35 years old and the global war on terrorism happened and I didn’t participate.”
Brown served in the Army Rangers and deployed to Iraq in 2005. He went back to Iraq again in 2007. That’s when he met Sedlock, a fellow Ohio State alumnus.
“We were in a really tough environment. It was the surge in Iraq in 2007. We deployed with a lot of guys that had no experience in combat,” Brown said. “You could make the analogy of a young football team that has never played an away game before. But there’s no time-outs, there’s no halftime. It’s for real.”
Brown said Sedlock left an impression on him immediately.
“His decisions, his candor, his ability to intimately connect with his soldiers was evident,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity in my life to be associated with a lot of great leaders and Eddie is in my top five. He’s a passionate guy and a leader of men.”
Sedlock said the feeling was mutual. He came to rely on Brown’s counsel and said his time at Ohio State and the NFL made Brown a more mature leader than his peers.
During the combat in 2007, Brown was critically injured. His injuries ended his Army career. He is now the director of parks and recreation for a city in Texas. He has developed programs for wounded veterans in his community.
Sedlock continues to serve in the Army.
The two Buckeyes toured some familiar places on campus including the football practice facility and Converse Hall, home to Ohio State’s ROTC program. The campus is still special to the two men.
“Anytime I can come back to Ohio State and speak to ROTC cadets, that’s pretty special,” Brown said.
Sedlock introduced Brown during the military ball and Brown delivered a message about leadership to the ROTC unit.
“You’re going to be looking into the eyes of a team, squad, a platoon or a company and they are looking for your direction,” Brown said. “You ought to be looking at that and thinking about that now. When you’re commissioned and they send you away, it’s too late to work on it.”