#VeteranOfTheDay Air Force Veteran William Earl Brown Jr.

#VeteranOfTheDay Air Force Veteran William Earl Brown Jr.

William Earl Brown Jr. was born in December 1927 in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City. He attended Pennsylvania State University and earned a Bachelor of Science in 1949. Brown received his pilot’s wings in 1951 at Craig Air Force Base in Alabama and was commissioned a second lieutenant.

Over his career, Brown achieved over 5,100 flight hours. He flew 125 combat missions while serving in South Korea during the Korean War and flew 100 combat missions over North Vietnam and Laos during the Vietnam War. He flew both F-86 Sabre jets and F-4 Phantoms. He was a member of the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing during the Korean War and was stationed at the Ubon Royal Thai Air Force Base between 1966 and 1969. After serving overseas for 12 years, Brown was assigned to the Pentagon in 1971. There, he worked as the special assistant to the assistant secretary of defense in the Department of Defense Manpower and Reserve Affairs Office.

Brown was promoted to the rank of brigadier general on Aug. 1, 1975. He then served as the commander of the 1st Composite Wing at Fort Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland. He held positions as chief of security police at Air Force Headquarters at Bolling Air Force Base in Washington D.C. and commander of Air Defense Weapons Center at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. He also held commands overseas. In 1980, Brown commanded the 17th Air Force, Sembach Air Force Base in Germany. He then became the commander of the Allied Air Forces in Southern Europe and deputy commander-in-chief of the U.S. Air Force in Southern Europe in 1982. In September 1982, Brown was promoted to lieutenant general.

After retiring from the Air Force in December 1984, after 33 years of service, Brown worked as a ski instructor in Pennsylvania. During his military career, he received multiple medals and awards, including a Distinguished Service Medal, a Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, a Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, a Purple Heart, an Air Medal with four oak leaf clusters and an Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster. He also received a Distinguished Alumni Award from Pennsylvania State University in 1981.

Brown in died 2020, at 92. He was living in Potomac Falls, Virginia. He is remembered by his wife, Gloria; their three children, Nancy, Lou and Bill; and his grandchildren, Ally, Logan and Cody.

We honor his service.


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It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.

Veterans History Project

This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.


Writer: Jack Patterson

Editors: Alexander Reza, Annabelle Colton

Researchers: Kennady Hertz, David Charles Deprez

Graphic artist: Philip Levine

By DME Interns

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Published on Jun. 25, 2022

Estimated reading time is 2.8 min.

Views to date: 379

One Comment

  1. Al Beers, Jr. June 26, 2022 at 8:38 pm

    My Dad, Lt. Col. Alva E. Beers was Gen. Brown’s wingman and best friend in the the 431 TFS out of Zaragoza, Spain, where my brother and I were born. They flew F102 interceptors in Western Europe during the Cuban Missile Crisis, then returned to the states to upgrade to F4 Phantom II’s to go to Ubon, Thailand in 1965. My parents never stopped talking about “Brownie” and his wife, Gloria, who was always there for Mom when she needed a best friend when the men were training or in combat. I wish I had time to tell you all the great stories of Gen. Brown and Dad, from pummeling French racists on the ski slopes, to raiding the Zaragoza AFB High School band room for instruments to terrorize the O Club after their planes were sent back to the states. None of what you hear of Gen Brown is exaggerated. I proudly display my photo of Gen. Brown introducing Dad to Betty Ford on the tarmac of Andrews AFB in front of the honor guard for Air Force II in my office!

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