Brown, Harold H.
Date of Interview
Harold H. Brown was born on 19 August 1924 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He attended local schools, graduating from North High School in 1942. Anxious to join the war effort, in September Harold volunteered for the Army Air Corps. Following Basic Training, in 1943 Harold passed air cadet qualifying tests and was sent to Tuskegee Army Air Field, Alabama. Tuskegee was home to the all-black 99th Fighter Squadron, formed in 1941; here Harold went through pre-flight, Basic, and advanced training, and received an officer's commission. Following training, in mid-1944, Second Lieutenant Harold Brown was shipped overseas to be part of the segregated 332nd Fighter Group, stationed in Italy. The 332nd Fighter Group became known as the "Red Tails" because of the distinctive markings on their aircraft. While a member of the 332nd Fighter Group Harold flew bomber escort missions as well as strafing missions against ground targets. Flying a strafing mission on 4 March 1945, Harold's plane was shot down near Linz, Austria, and he bailed out. Barely surviving angry German civilians upon landing, what Harold called "the most frightening moment of my life," he was first taken to an airdrome at nearby Wels before being transported in mid-March to Stalag XIII-D, at Nurnberg. With Germany rapidly collapsing, this camp was emptied and the prisoners marched south to Stalag VII-A, at Moosburg. This overcrowded facility was liberated by American forces on 29 April 1945. Harold spent some weeks at Camp Lucky Strike, the central American POW repatriation facility in Le Havre, France, before returning to the United States. Harold remained in the Air Corps (after 1947 Air Force) after World War II; he served in Korea, and finally retired in 1965 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. After retirement he settled in Columbus, Ohio, and attended Ohio State University, using GI Bill benefits to earn a doctoral degree. Harold was for many years an administrator at Columbus State Community College, retiring in 1986.
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Saylor, Thomas, "Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941-1946 - Harold Brown" (2004). Oral History Project: World War II Years, 1941-1946. 9.