Harold Brown, Tuskegee Airman Who Faced a Lynch Mob, Dies at 98

Taking his doctor’s advice, he regularly drank a concoction of ice cream, malt and an egg. He was retested, weighed in at 128.75 and was accepted as a Tuskegee Airman.

Traveling to the South for the first time, he felt the effects of Jim Crow discrimination outside the segregated Army base where he trained. At 19, on May 23, 1944, he graduated from flight school as a second lieutenant with the 332nd Fighter Group and shipped off to Italy.

One of 32 Tuskegee Airmen captured during the war, he was imprisoned at a camp near Nuremberg, which the Germans evacuated as American troops advanced. He was then transferred to Stalag VII-A, north of Munich. An armored division led by Gen. George S. Patton liberated them on April 29, 1945.

When he returned to the South and to Fort Patrick Henry in Virginia, Dr. Brown recalled on the “American Veteran” podcast, “we got off the boat, everything was the same. Patrick Henry was still a segregated base, no changes, no nothing, just the way I left it.”

During the Korean War, Dr. Brown was stationed in Tokyo and flew missions from bases in South Korea. He later served as a flight instructor at Tuskegee Army Airfield in Alabama and at Lockbourne Air Force Base near Columbus, Ohio, which by then was integrated, and qualified as a Strategic Air Command B-47 bomber pilot.

He retired from the Air Force as a lieutenant colonel in 1965.

“The first time I was integrated was in a P.O.W. camp,” Dr. Brown said. “I lived in an integrated base in the military, leave the base and went home to a segregated civilian life.”

After his military service, he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Ohio University and a master’s and doctorate in vocational-technical education from the Ohio State University. He became an instructor and chairman of the electronics department at Columbus Area Technician’s School, which was later chartered as Columbus State Community College. He retired from academia in 1986.

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