Harold H. Brown was born in 1925 and grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. When he graduated from North High School in 1942, he enlisted in the military with the goal of becoming a pilot, a dream of his since the sixth grade. Brown went to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for training to become a Tuskegee Airman.
In 1944, at the age of 19, Brown graduated flight school and commissioned as a second lieutenant. His first assignment was as a member of the 332nd Fighter Group in Ramitelli, Italy. The Tuskegee Airmen protected bomber planes on their missions into Germany, Austria and Southern Europe. They were so successful at their job, that the bomber pilots nicknamed them the “Red Tailed Angels.”
Brown flew 30 missions during World War II. In the winter of 1945, Nazi forces captured Brown when he crashed over Linz, Austria. His plane had been hit with debris from a train that the Airmen were shooting at. American forces liberated the camp two months later.
Brown served in Far East Asia Command during the Korean War. He also served in Strategic Air Command during the Cold War. After 23 years of service, Brown retired in 1965 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Throughout his military career, he kept the thought of life after service in the back of his mind, taking night courses at colleges in close proximity to where he served. Once Brown retired from the military, he graduated from Ohio University with a degree in mathematics, then taught at Columbus Area Technician School, now Columbus State Community College.
In 2007, Brown received a Congressional Gold Medal alongside his fellow Tuskegee Airmen. They also attended President Barack Obama’s Inauguration in 2009. To keep the story of the Tuskegee Airmen alive for the next generation, Brown and his wife, Marsha Bordner, wrote “Keep Your Airspeed Up: The Story of a Tuskegee Airman.” Brown was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame in 2020. He currently resides in Port Clinton, Ohio. At the age of 95, he is one of the oldest living Tuskegee Airmen.
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Fact checker: Alexys Santiago