Fond memories of famed airman Harold Brown take flight at Liberty Aviation

Mar 8, 2023 | Featured, Around Ottawa County | 0 comments

Famed Tuskegee Airman Harold Brown’s exploits as a World War II fighter pilot will long be remembered. (Photo by D’Arcy Egan)

BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN

Famed Tuskegee Airman, educator and champion of racial equality Dr. and Lt. Col. Harold H. Brown was fondly remembered on Saturday afternoon by a crowd of admirers under a bluebird sky during a Celebration of Life at Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton.

From a large airplane hanger decorated with his exploits and a band playing his favorite music, a standing room crowd of more than 600 family, friends and admirers gave the beloved war hero his sendoff, capped by a “Missing Man” traditional flyover of fighter jets.

His beloved wife, Dr. Marsha Bordner, made sure family, friends, acquaintances and admirers were invited so they could pay their respects to this area’s most famous military airman, who died on Jan. 12 at 98.

Port Clinton is a small city, but has honored its many military heroes in its past. Harold has been the most celebrated, with a history as a fighter pilot and prisoner of war, toiling over the years to bring more attention to the “Red Tales,” the brave Tuskegee Airmen who fought so hard during World War II.

Those stalwart fighter pilots wrote an amazing chapter in the history of World War II, both for their talent in the skies over Europe and their never-ending quest for recognition as mainstream Americans as they battled for racial equality.

Harold Brown of Port Clinton died on January 12 at the age of 98, enjoying a long life that included military and academic exploits, as well as a love of golf. (Photo by D’Arcy Egan)

In the cockpit of a P-51 Mustang, an American long-range, single-seat fighter aircraft, Harold was at the forefront of those heralded stories of the Red Tales.

Harold was a Minnesota native with youthful desire to be a pilot. After flight school at Tuskegee, Ala., his lengthy military service record and long-time tenure as an educator and an administrator at Columbus College, Harold settled in Port Clinton with his wife, Dr. Marsha Borden, the retired president of Terra State Community College.

Harold loved to hike and bike, and especially play golf, and to tour the country as an active Red Tale. Harold and Marsha took it upon themselves to tell the real story of the Tuskegee Airmen. The couple collaborated on the history of the Red Tales, “Keep Your Airspeed Up, The Story of a Tuskegee Airman.”

The celebrated book prompted Harold to make a myriad of appearances in Port Clinton, around Ohio and throughout the country. He was a popular man behind the podium wherever he spoke, which was often and especially to young people.

Harold Brown’s wife, Marsha Bordner, and his stepson, Jonathan Bordner, gave the World War II ace a celebration of his remarkable life at Liberty Aviation Museum in Port Clinton on Saturday. (Photo by D’Arcy Egan)

During World War II, as a combat fighter pilot with the 332nd Fighter Group, Harold and his fellow Red Tales escorted American bombers over Europe. They earned a reputation as stellar airmen. Brown’s P-51C aircraft was shot down in the European Theatre of World War II and he became a prisoner of war.

Harold and Marsha retired to Port Clinton and the Catawba Peninsula. While he could have focused on his golf game, Harold chose to also become a voice for racial equality in America, and relished speaking to young crowds and promote patriotism and equality.

Harold was welcomed to be buried at the prestigious United States Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery, Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C., located next to the U.S. Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home.

He chose instead to be laid to rest at Catawba Island Cemetery, said his wife Marsha. This was their home, a place they both loved and where Harold wanted to be buried.

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