U.S. Sen. Scott Brown has been promoted to the rank of colonel in the National Guard.

The Wrentham resident was "pinned" by U.S. Senator John McCain Wednesday, in a ceremony that involved the Arizona Republican and Vietnam War veteran pinning the colonel insignia on Brown.

Brown said McCain is a national hero and has been one of his mentors in the Senate.

With his family by his side in Washington, D.C., Brown assumed the higher rank after serving most recently as a lieutenant colonel.

"It's an honor to have the opportunity to serve," Brown, R-Mass., said.

The freshman senator has been in the National Guard for 32 years, joining as a teenager after being impressed with the Guard's response to the Blizzard of 1978.

Brown is a lawyer and has served in the Guard's Judge Advocate General Corp.

More recently he has been assigned to the Pentagon where he said he just finished up helping to draft the Guard's anti-sexual harassment regulations.

Serving in the Guard while being a U.S. senator helps him better understand the needs of the military and how Congress can help it, he said.

For instance, he said doing a tour in Afghanistan caused him to learn that some outfits that have contracts with the military end up being associated with terrorists and U.S. enemies.

That led him to co-sponsor legislation authorizing the military to break any contract when it is determined the contractor has ties to enemies, he said.

But, most of all, he said, serving in the Guard reminds him of how much he appreciates the United States.

"It makes me understand we have the greatest country in the world," he said.

Brown said he is obligated to serve in his current post in the Pentagon for the next two years, but he does not know what the future holds or whether he will ever become a general.

"I never thought I would be colonel," he said.

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