Lt. Col. Harold H. Brown, 98, of Catawba Island, took his final flight in the skies and passed away peacefully on Jan. 12.
Harold was born in Minneapolis, Aug. 19, 1924, to John and Allie Brown. When he graduated from high school in 1942, he enlisted in the military with the goal of becoming a pilot, a dream of his since sixth grade. Brown went to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama for training to become a Tuskegee Airman. At the age of 19 he graduated from the segregated pilot training program and was commissioned as an officer in the then U.S. Army Air Corps in 1944. During his time in combat, he completed missions strafing targets on the ground and protecting bombers in the air. On his 30th mission, he was shot down over Linz, Austria, and was forced to bail out of his badly damaged P-51 Mustang. He was taken as a prisoner of war.
After World War II, Harold returned to Tuskegee as a Flight Instructor. He was then transferred to Lockbourne AF Base in Columbus, Ohio. He later served in Japan during the Korean War.
Harold left active duty in 1965 at the rank of Lt. Colonel and turned his eyes to education. He received a degree in mathematics from Ohio University and continued on to earn a doctoral degree from The Ohio State University. Dr. Brown translated his love of aviation education to a love for engineering education. He took a position at Columbus Area Technical School, becoming Chair of the Electrical Engineering Program, and eventually retiring as Vice President of Academic Affairs at Columbus State Community College.
Dr. Brown and the other Tuskegee Airmen, through their superlative service during World War II, paved the way for desegregation of the military. In 2007 they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington, D.C.
To keep the story of the Tuskegee Airmen alive for the next generation, Harold and his wife, Marsha Bordner, published Keep Your Airspeed Up: The Story of a Tuskegee Airman, in 2017.
Harold will be interred at Catawba Island Cemetery. In his earlier years, he had expected to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery, but more recently decided that “Port Clinton is my home, and I want to be buried there.”
Besides his wife Marsha, Harold leaves behind a daughter, Karen Jackson (Savannah, Georgia), step-son Jonathan Bordner, and his two grandsons, Dashiell and Simon Bordner. In addition to his parents, Harold was preceded in death by his daughter, Denise Brown and brother, Lawrence “Bubba” Brown.
Harold was baptized as an older adult and was a member of Firelands Presbyterian Church.
Memorial contributions can be made to: CAF Rise Above, PO Box 416, Red Wing, Minnesota 55066; the Bordner/Brown Scholarship c/o Terra State Community College Foundation, 2830 Napoleon Rd. Fremont, Ohio 43420; or Firelands Presbyterian Church (to the attention of the Mission Committee), 2626 E Harbor Rd., Port Clinton, Ohio 43452.
The family would like to thank the staff of Admiral’s Pointe for its loving care during his final days.
A celebration of Harold’s amazing life will be held on Saturday, March 4, 12:30 p.m., at the Liberty Aviation Museum, 3515 E State Rd, Port Clinton, Ohio 43452. Arrangements entrusted to the Groff Funeral Home and Crematory, Sandusky. Condolences may be shared online at www.grofffuneralhomes.com.