BROOKFIELD, Conn. — On June 8, 1969, Robin Montgomery, a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps, was leading his platoon to a command post when they became pinned in a Vietnamese rice patty, taking heavy fire.
Making a split-second decision, Montgomery crawled across enemy lines, stood in full view of those who would just as soon kill him and singlehandedly waged an aggressive assault to take out a machine gun position that might do harm to his troops. Inspired by his bravery, the 30-member platoon — vastly outnumbered — surged forward and prevailed in battle that day.
Badly injured, Montgomery earned the Navy Cross, the nation’s highest award for valor in combat.
It’s not something everyone knows about Montgomery, who has served for 15 years as Brookfield’s police chief. Others might not realize he also worked for 26 years for the FBI.
“The people is what really turns you on to service,” Montgomery said of his distinguished career. “That’s the neat thing about it. That is worth more than any amount of dollars.”
Montgomery recalled his three years in the Marines on Wednesday as the keynote speaker of the 2015 Trumbull Veterans Day ceremony. Speaking before fellow veterans of all branches of the military and the Trumbull High School senior class, he encouraged his audience to listen and communicate and exhibit both humility and a positive attitude.
Montgomery said he remembers that day in 1969 well, saying his deeds were “an immediate reaction.
“Fear does a lot to you,” said the chief, who also earned two Purple Hearts during his service.
After coming back from Vietnam, Montgomery worked for 26 years with the FBI, ending his career there as special agent in charge of the Critical Incident Response Group (CIRG). The group was formed after the 1993 siege in Waco, Texas, he said.
The CIRG provides expertise in crisis management, tactical operations, crisis negotiation, hostage rescue and other critical areas.
Montgomery said his time in the Marines and the FBI continues to inform his outlook as he leads Brookfield’s police force.
“You need humility,” he said. “In civilian life, you need to learn to listen, but not feeling you’re superior. If you’re humble, people tend to share things with you.
“If you’ve got a positive attitude, you tend to succeed.”