Harold Brown was a U.S. Air Force veteran who flew missions in World War II and the Korean War. He was one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, the group of primarily Black pilots who earned an outstanding combat record despite military segregation.
Brown had a strong desire to fly even as a teen, working as a soda jerk to pay for flying lessons and enlisting in the military as soon as he graduated high school in 1942. At 19 years old, he graduated from flight school as a 2nd Lieutenant, and soon found himself stationed in Italy flying missions over Europe. Alongside his fellow Tuskegee Airman, he was tasked with protecting American bombers during missions over Germany. In 1945, his plane was downed over Austria, where he survived an attempted lynching and became a prisoner of war. Brown would continue to serve after the war. He flew missions throughout the Korean War before finally retiring in 1965 as a Lieutenant Colonel.
Brown did not slow down when he entered the civilian world. He earned a Doctorate in Education from Ohio State University, and later became Vice President of Columbus State Community College. In 2017, he and his wife, Marsha S. Bordner, published Keep Your Airspeed Up: The Story of a Tuskegee Airman, a memoir about his time in the military. He was awarded a Congressional Gold Medal in 2006, and in 2020 was inducted into the Minnesota Aviation Hall of Fame.
Tributes to Harold Brown