By Greg Gelpi
Driving busloads of school children for Clayton County, Ulysee Brown traded in the big yellow bus for the desert camouflage of military transport vehicles.
Brown, first sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserve's 991st Transportation Unit, returned from a year and four days of serving in Iraq.
While in Iraq, Brown was in charge of 122 soldiers, who hauled ammunition throughout the country. He was in Tikrit, Saddam Hussein's hometown, for part of his tour in Iraq.
"Managing troops in a war zone isn't easy," Brown said, saying he would prefer to drive a bus. "There was quite a bit of danger out there."
A roadside bomb struck one of his convoys, but his soldiers suffered only scratches from the shrapnel.
He said that the most important thing was that he brought 122 soldiers over and brought 122 back.
"We came in contact with a lot of hostility," Brown said. "I'm just happy to be home. It didn't seem like we would ever get out of there."
Shortly after Brown and his soldiers left Iraq bound for America, the military stopped sending troops home, he said.
"It was just a blessing to get out when we did," Brown said. "Say what you want about America, but I'm glad to be home."
Before leaving for Iraq, he drove bus No. 522 for Roberts Middle School and Mt. Zion Elementary School.
His son was stationed in another area of Iraq while he was there.
Errol Brown, 22, a corporal in the U.S. Marine Corps, served about four months in Iraq in radio communications.
In the midst of the war zone and recalling making his way into Baghdad, Errol Brown said the worst part of his service in Iraq was the heat.
Although Ulysee Brown wasn't with the school system long before being called to Iraq, his supervisor with the transportation department said he quickly made his mark.
"Even though he wasn't on the job long, he was a good driver," Area 3 Transportation Supervisor Denise Chappell said. "Whenever I would see him, he would always have a smile on his face no matter what was happening."
Driving a bus with 60 children can be stressful, Chappell said, but Brown had no problems with his route.
The Clayton County Public Schools Transportation Department recognized the father and son for their service.
Director of Transportation Michael Jennings honored Ulysee Brown during a ceremony at the school system's transportation facilities for "leaving his family to care of our nation's business."
We "mourn the loss of soldiers and give thanks for their return," Jennings said.
Ulysee Brown said he will retire from the military in November after 33 years of duty. He worked 28 years for MARTA before joining the Clayton County school system.
"I think my mission is complete," the father of six said.