Tinker man dies in flash flood, will be missed

  • Published
  • By Brandice J. O'Brien
  • Tinker Public Affairs
His neat desk is adornedwith vases of fresh and colorful flowers. There are framed family photos, an open memorial book awaiting the next inscription and his Holy Bible. Taped on his monitor is a small picture of him. But his chair is empty and his phone lays on the hook. It is a constant reminder that something is amiss.

Yes, Vincent Brown is gone and he will be missed.

"There's going to be that empty spot in the office that everyone is going to feel for a long time," said Barbara Wallace, 564th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker Industrial Engineering technician and co-worker. "He had that kind of personality, the kind that you feel when they're not here. He was our 'Good Morning America' because every morning he'd update us on our current events and sports from the day before. He was enthusiastic."

Heidy Sanders, 564th AMXS KC-135 IET and co-worker who sat across him for the past 12 years, agreed.

"He was passionate; he talked about sports, music, daily news, politics and he never met a stranger. If he met someone, he would be friends with him immediately," she said. "He was just that type of person, very gregarious."

In the early hours of Aug. 9, Mr. Brown, a 564th AMXS KC-135 IET, allegedly drowned after he was caught in a flash flood. According to a co-worker who had read the police report, Mr. Brown, 60, received a phone call from his step-daughter in northwest Oklahoma City saying she had driven into high water and needed help. He drove his car to meet her and help her transfer items from her vehicle to his. During the switch, the water level rose even higher and swept him away. His body was carried for several blocks before being found in a drainage ditch.

To many, Mr. Brown's death is an all-too familiar reminder of the dangers caused by flash flooding. To the 16 planners who worked alongside Mr. Brown since he hired into the department in 2000, it is a devastating realization that their friend, and an asset to the Tinker community, is gone.

Mr. Brown's friends said he is best known for his spirit, compassion for others and good-natured sense of humor and demeanor toward others.

"He had such a magnetic personality," said David Piscitello, 564th AMXS KC-135 Planning chief. "I hope no other office has to go through this."

The patriarch of a large blended family, Mr. Brown was family focused and his love for people carried over into his work. He and his office mates shared jokes and pranks about his fear of snakes, his love for the Oklahoma City Thunder and his wife's baked goods.

Yet, one of his last contributions will be remembered for years to come.

In 2012, he was assigned the team lead spot to a 900-hour corrosion preventative compound workload. It was Mr. Brown's job to ensure the entire fleet was sprayed with the CPC, which entailed coordination between several squadrons.

"It was a big project and he did well," Mr. Piscitello said, "and now it's up for a second quarter team award."

Mr. Brown served Tinker faithfully for 31 years.