31 Years of Mud and Blood
COLONEL CHARLES H. BROWN
406TH INFANTRY REGIMENT,102ND INFANTRY DIVISION
245TH TANK BATTALION, 45TH INFANTRY DIVISION
MILITARY ASSISTANCE COMMAND VIETNAM, UNITED STATES ARMY
Presented in this article are the uniforms of Colonel Charles H. Brown, who served in the US Army from 1943 until 1974.
Between 1943 and 1945, he would serve in WW2 as the Infantry Unit Commander. He began his military career in August of 1943, enlisting at Fort Benning, Georgia. By December, he was commissioned as platoon leader, 2nd Lieutenant. Nearly a year later in September 1944, he arrived in France with Company L, 406th Regiment, 102nd Infantry Division. He would fight through Germany nearly reaching Berlin.
After WW2, in February of 1946, Charles Brown transferred to the HQ 6th Constabulary Regiment for occupation and security duties in Germany until March of 1948, when he would transfer to armored school in the US to train with tanks. In June of 1949, he became the Armored Tactics Instructor for Ft. Knox, Kentucky. In 1952 he would find himself commanding tanks agaisnt the Chinese in the Korean War. He would win the bronze star for his actions in Korea.
Following the Korean War, Charles Brown would serve in different postings throughout the US and Germany such as Instructor, Advisor, and Field Commander. Between 1961 and 1964, he would serve at the US Army Combat Developments Command Nuclear Group as Operations Evaluator. This was one of many Research and Development groups active in the US Military and I haven’t been able to find much further information, but it seems like it was R&D for Nuclear Warfare, perhaps armored aspects due to his expertise in armored warfare. He would go on to serve as an advisor in Vietnam in 1964 and 1965, winnign many awards and serving yet again in combat.
After Vietnam, he went on to pioneer new tactics and systems for armored warfare, working with all aspects from tanks to anti-tank weapons, and more. He would do such an incredible job that he would be awarded the Legion of Merit an additional two times.
Colonel Charles Brown would retire from the Military in 1974 after fighting in three wars and serving thirty-one years in uniform. He passed away peacefully in his home state of South Carolina on February 16, 1994.
(Note: The Visor, CIB, Para wings, shirt and tie are not his and have been collected to restore his uniform, we are still on the hunt for buttons and a name plate to complete this uniform)
The War in Europe
In September 1944, Lt. Brown arrived in France with Company L, 406th Regiment, 102nd Infantry Division.
In October, the first Divisional units entered combat around Wurm, Germany. This was his first taste of combat and little did he know would become all too real less then a month later.
For his service here, he was awarded on November 18, 1944 a Silver Star, his first Purple Heart, and the Combat Infantryman’s Badge. Days later, on November 23, he received a second Purple Heart.
His Silver Star citation reads,
“For gallantry in action against the enemy in Germany on 18 November 1944. Although he suffered painful injuries during the fight for a fanatically defended enemy town, First Lieutenant Brown (then Second Lieutenant) declined to be evacuated until the objective was secured. He led a platoon into the town, personally attacked a halftrack, captured the occupants and eliminated several snipers from positions within the town. The exemplary courage and devotion to duty shown by First Lieutenant Brown reflect highest credit upon himself and the military service.”
Before November’s end, the Division launched an attack which carried them to the River Roer, through Welx, Flossdorf, and Linnich. The Division spent some time throughout December aggressively patrolling the Roer river area, and training for the impending river crossing.
In February of 1945, the 102nd Division put that training to use and launched an attack across the Roer, as part of Operation Grenade. This Operation would have the Division advance toward Lövenich and Erkelenz, bypassing Mönchengladbach. By March 3, they’d taken Krefeld, and reached the Rhine. From here they would wait until April to cross a pontoon bridge on the Rhine, proceeding to attack in the Weser Hills, meeting stiff opposition. After three days and nights of terrific enemy resistance, Wilsede and Hessisch-Oldendorf fell, April 12, 1945, and the 102nd Division pushed on towards the Elbe river.
Days later on April 15, Breitenfeld fell and the Division outposted on the Elbe, just 77km from Berlin, its advance halted on orders. That same day, they discovered war crimes in Gardelegen. About 1,200 prisoners from the Mittelbau-Dora and Hannover-Stöcken Concentration Camps had been forced from a train into an empty barn on the outskirts of the town. The barn was then burned down. About 1,016 bodies were recovered. When the first Soldiers arrived at the barn, two men came crawling out, having survived by burying themselves under the dead and burning bodies. In a scene repeated across the former German occupied territories, the allies forced the nearby civilian population to view the site of the atrocities. They were also made to bury the victims in a new cemetery. After digging the graves and burying the bodies, the Division, along with the civilians, erected a cross or a Star of David over each grave and enclosed the site with a white fence.
The following month, on May 3, 1945 the 102nd Division shook hands with the allied Soviet Red Armies 156th Division just outside of the Berlin, five days before the war ended. Shortly after, Charles Brown would be promoted to Company Commander.
102nd Division in Germany
Link up with Russian allies.
Korea "The Forgotten War"
The newly promoted Major Brown returned to battle on March 19, 1952, arriving in Korea with HQ 245th Battalion, 45th Infantry Division, to serve as Battalion Ex-Officer then Battalion Commander throughout his five month tour.
By the time the division was in place, the battle lines on both sides had largely solidified, leaving the 45th Infantry Division in a stationary position. It was deployed around Chorwon and assigned to protect the key routes from that area into Seoul. The terrain was difficult and the weather poor in the region. Small-unit actions and patrols made up the majority of the Division's combat. In the Division's first few months on the line, Chinese forces conducted three raids in its sector. In retaliation, Major Brown and the 245th Tank Battalion were sent to raid Agok.
A short time later, two companies of Chinese ambushed and devastated a patrol from the 179th Infantry. In the spring, the Division launched Operation Counter, which was an effort to establish eleven Patrol Bases around Old Baldy Hill. The Division was able to defend the hill against a series of assaults from the Chinese 38th Army. The Division held a stationary defensive line against repeated Chinese attacks throughout 1952. Charles Brown and his 245th Tank Battalion would again be sent forward to assault Chinese positions. In 1953, concentrated attacks on the 45th positions from Chinese and North Korean forces continued to mount, but the Division managed to hold most of its ground until the end of the war, in the summer of that year.
Charles Brown would receive the Bronze Star Medal during his service in Korea. His citation reads,
“Major Charles H Brown… distinguished himself by meritorious service in connection with military operations against an armed enemy, in Korea, from 19 March 1952 to 25 October 1952. As officer in charge of Operations and Training, Major Brown performed his tasks in a thoroughly and outstanding manner… contributed materially to the success of combat operations by constant, personal liaison. With fine zeal he coordinated attacks and raids upon the enemy to inflict the maximum casualties with a minimum expenditure of personnel and equipment… Major Brown’s fine administrative abilities and sincere devotion to duty were an inspiration to his fellow officers and men.”
Charles would spend the more than 10 years training troops, developing new tactics and new weapons systems following Korea. However the call of battle would once more reach out to him from the dense jungles and wide open paddy fields of Vietnam.
The Jungles of Vietnam
In November of 1964, promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Charles Brown arrived in Vietnam as part of a group of advisors for his third and final war. Between that time and October 1965, he was Senior Advisor in the Danang and Quang Nam Special sectors.
He fought leading from the front, just as he had in Korea and WW2. He helped develop new anti-guerilla warfare tactics and participated in over twenty-five aerial missions over hostile territory, in support of combat operations.
For these actions he would earn himself the Legion of Merit, Air Medal with two oakleaf clusters, and The Vietnam Gallantry Cross. He would also receive his Second Combat Infantrymans Badge and his third Purple Heart.