Donald William Brown
was born in Joliet, Illinois on July 20, 1918 to Harry
Brown. Don attended Joliet Township High School
and then joined the Army on July 1, 1941 as an
Engineer on aircraft such as the B-17 and B-24. After numerous stateside assignments, he
was assigned to the 2nd Emergency Rescue Squadron in February 1944. After having knee
surgery, Sergeant Brown flew to Keesler Field, Biloxi, Mississippi and just missed his
group as they moved to California to be deployed overseas to join the war effort. He
signed on as an extra Engineer and flew back to Fairfield, California and was assigned to
his own airplane. He flew rescue missions for the Squadron from July 1944 'till July 1945.
(From his daughter, Kathy Jordan)
discharged from the Army in August 1945 and returned home to Joliet.
After being discharged, he went back to part time
farming, and worked for Ernest Swenson Excavating in the Gravel Pit at
Ritchie, Illinois. He drove a Caterpillar scraper
there doing seasonal work. He then went to Blockson Chemical Co. and worked
on the TSP furnace, and watched Caterpillar in Joliet on Rt. 6 being built.
Dad was one of the first men to be hired at the new CAT plant. He began
working in the shop on the burr bench in the foundry in March of 1952. As
Dad worked at CAT he went to school, encouraged by CAT and them paying he
tuition, he took advanced math, metallurgy, welding, and advanced
hydraulics. CAT used his military experience with engines and hydraulics to
steer him into hydraulic production for CAT. He
moved up at CAT from the shop in production manufacturing to Hydraulic
Engineer releasing. He here provided the manufacturing area with materials
and work orders to produce the hydraulic components needed for the CAT
scrapers and Graders, and many other CAT models.
He retired from CAT in 1980 with 28 years of service. After retiring, he
once again went back to his first love, farming and driving tractors. He
also worked for the Joliet Park District at Woodruff Golf Course as a greens
keeper until his health force him to retire once again in 1988. He always
joked about ladies day being dangerous, and the fact that he had never
golfed in his life! One of Dad's other loves was attending nearby air shows
during the summer! He would return home sunburned and wound up about the
WWII aircraft that he had seen, and especially the stunt fliers which he
really enjoyed. After he became ill, he still kept up with his interest in
machines as he was able, and began to build model steam engines .His
favorite was the "Sterling Walking Beam Engine" with an original plan from
the 1800's. Dad built several of his own version from scratch, using Raid,
pop and coffee cans, along with a big fruit can to hold the coolant! Dad
loved to be outdoors, and had to be busy. He built many things for my
sister and I when we were kids, and also made many wooden toys for his
grandchildren. There was nothing that he didn't know how to fix! Dad had
many woodworking novelties which he carried to the Threshermen's shows too!
Mom still has the examples. Dad passed away on May 26, 2002 of a heart attack and complications
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The following are exerpts from Don Brown's journal
(Thanks to Kathy Jordan for taking the time to type this up
and get it to us!)
July 1, 1944 - 5 p.m. Flew to Hickam Field,
Oahu, Hawaii with my crew in an OA-10A.
July 2, 1944 - Arrived.
July 8, 1944 - left Hawaii for S. W. F. duty. Our plane, "Axle Ass Annie"
#44-33875, was piloted by Larry E. Bormann or Commander Harold B. Smith.
July 9, 1944
- Canton, Island, and crossed International Dateline.
July10, 1944 -Tarawa, 3 p.m.
July 11, 1944 - Carney Field, Guadalcanal.
July 13, 1944 - Townsville, Australia. In Armstrong Barracks for 9 days.
July 22, 1944 - Left for Port Moresby, Jackson Field, New Guinea and for Nadzab, New Guinea.
July 25, 1944 - Nadzab to Biak, Mokemor
July 26, 1944
- First patrol from Biak base to Tajdi. Did rescue patrol and several rescues.
Covered invasions of various islands for downed pilots, throughout the Pacific Campaign.
This included MacArthur's invasion of Leyte Gulf in the Phillippines,
July 27, 1944 -patrol from Biak to Maticurie (Geelvink Bay) 10 hrs. And 30
July 28, 1944 - water landing at Naoe Island-lunched with natives (Dutch East
Indies) and went in with native outriggers to beach. They fly the Dutch flag while fishing
July 30, 1944 - patrol from Biak to Hollandia.
July 31, 1944
- flew local airdrome around Biak.
August 5, 1944 -
Biak, Sansapor Patrol.
August 7, 1944 -Biak, Tadji Patrol.
August 8, 1944 -Covered strike at Ceram Bay. Heavies (B24's) struck other side
August 9, 1944 -Biak Solomon Bay (Ceram Bay strike heavy on other side of
1944 - 1st picked up an A 20 pilot shot
up by ground fire. He flew 120 miles bracing his knees against elevator control to keep
nose down as elevator was shot away partially. Picked up petroleum from Hollandia in
Geelvink Bay off Rhode Island, New Guinea. Read the [Mission
August 12, 1944 - patrol and recon to Utaron Base (Jap) 1/2 mile from land base
and Japs cut loose with 20mm ground fire which blossomed off our starboard side and a
little under our tail. It was poor marksmanship on their part, but best for us. The
base was located on West Dutch New Guinea mainland. (As I recollect, this is
the mission that Harry Remington let me and Baum fly the plane)
August 18, 1944
-Took off to cover strike on south side of Ceram Bay with 8 P 38
August 23, 1944 -on way to cover Ceram strike, saw US light bombers destroy Jap
airstrip at Boemi on the New Guinea mainland. The bombs dropped smack on the
strip. It was put out of
August 25, 1944 -covered Palace Island strike.
August 29, 1944 - covered Palace strike.
August 30, 1944 - picked up Aussie Kitty Hawk (P40) pilot, sent photo home of him
being pulled to the "duck" with a hand rope. We picked him up 2 miles off
coast of New Guinea at Moemi. There were quite a few AA batteries along the
shore. According to Intell although we weren't fired upon. Nearly landed on an
unknow Jap strip at Noemfoor Island. Pulled up just in time.
September 1, 1944 - covered Celebes strike.
September 8, 1944 - covered Celebes strike-had P38 escort.
September 10, 1944 -
Covered Palau strike. Fires burning in 4 or 5 different
sections. Train of bombs exploding visible along coast. They were firing from
ground up at bombers (B24's). On
return rescued 4 members of B 24 crew that was forced down SW of Palau. Only 4 of 10 in
crew survived. Their electrical system was shot out and couldn't transfer fuel. 2 of
the boys were cut up and had to have first aid before taking off life raft. Our
medic did a swell job putting a splint on 1 fellow, even though the raft was tossing in a
choppy sea. Landed them home on their base, at
Owi Island. Read the [Mission
September 11, 1944 -To Finchhafen from Biak for spare parts.
September 12, 1944 -from Finchhafen to Oro Bay to get more parts, stayed over.
September 13, 1944 -Oro Bay to Biak base.
September 14, 1944 - Biak to Hollandia and home to Biak.
September 15, 1944 - covered Moratic invasion (Halmaharas group). 3 destroyers and 2
or 3 cruisers firing their ships guns broadside, cutting everything down before
invasion. They shelled for 1 ï¿½ hours, shell burst and fires were very visible all
along the beachhead. The opposition seemed negative.
Carrier shipboard fighters covered the beachhead from overhead, direction shipboard shell
fire. We patrolled the whole landing up to 400-500 yards from shore for
Snafus. Saw all the landing barges go in on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd was of invasion.
Enemy aircraft was sighted 1 ï¿½ hours after invasion. The shipboard fighters took
care of them I guess. We were on our way home 20 minutes before they were sighted.
Stopped over at Sansipor Island. (They have a beautiful steel runway there).
Landed at 12:30 for fuel and passengers. Took off at 13:40 to drop a few brass hats at OWI
Island (B 24 base).
September 17, 1944 - take off for Cairn's, Australia loaded up with fresh vegetables
September 21, 1944 -left Cairn's at 8:45 am and landed at Biak Borido strip at 6:30
September 24, 1944 - covered Ceram Bay strike, sighted 2 enemy planes. Pilot and I
saw one flying low along shore line. We got out in a hurry. Were not supposed to be any
enemy planes in this area.
September 25, 1944 - Biak to Manus Island (Admiralty Group) and picked up another
crew that took a plane down for repairs at Manus. Made a beautiful water landing in
September 26, 1944 - from Manus to Momote Air strip them to Biak.
- October 10, 1944 -getting ready to move into Morotai. (close to
October 10, 1944 - left Biak at 5 am via ATC transport command. (Had a jeep along
that belonged to our Engineering for cargo-landed Morati (N. Of Holmahress) 9:45 am.
Had 3 raids
first night. Japs hit two small fuel dumps ï¿½ mile from beach.
October 11, 1944 -pretty swell set up at camp (very rugged too). Took #74
off Morotai strip and landed at Navy anchorage in bay. Had a swell foxhole alongside
tent, role out of launch and into hole if need be.
October 15, 1944 - Mission to an island in the southern most Celebes to pick up 2
Dutch officers who were checking the island for enemy and setting up a weather
station. They said no enemy
sighted but a few Jap native MP's went thru that section a few months ago and haven't been
seen since. Had trouble with #75 dead batteries. Had to hand crank both
engines and were practically on the coral reef and really sweating.
October 21-22, 1944 - Left
Morotai for Philippines on carrier run. Had an
Assoc. Press cameraman along. He took 100 ft. Of invasion of Dulog and Leyte
beachhead. 1/3 of Halsey's was in Leyte Harbor. We made water landing and
expected to take off right away but an alert alarm sounded and every surface ship in
harbor laid a smoke screen and we were adrift in the harbor for 2 hours. We finally
drifted beside a hospital transport and tied up to her stern. The USA flak went up
like a screen. The next morning enemy raided a US ship, downed Jap plane, saw it come down
in a ball of flame myself. ï¿½ hour before we landed at the invasion, a Jap plane let
a tin fist go at the USS Honolulu and struck her midships. They had to beach her to
prevent sinking. We stepped over 3 or 4 dead Honolulu crewmen when we boarded
hospital transport ship. There were 4 killed and 20 injured in the explosion.
The surface ships could not fire on the Jap plane for fear of hitting our own ships. The
Jap fighters came in that low. One of the hospital ship crewmembers said a Jap plane
was blown from the air a few minutes after the Honolulu was hit. Left Philippines the morning of the 21st and
landed at Morati at 13:45 pm The night was like the 4th of July.
October 22, 1944 - (at Morotai) Japs broke thru area perimeter and blew up dynamite
storage last evening. Guess we better sleep with our 45's under blanket tonight.
October 23, 1944 - covered Sulu Archipelago strike (between Philippines and North
Borneo) Had 4 P 47's for escort. All quiet.
October 26, 1944 -covered strike at Zamboanga just off north side of
Mindano. Heard on radio that situation was well in hand. The Jap fleet was
said to be about defeated, and could hardly
stand another engagement.
October 28, 1944 -covered strike and airlifted at Tababutha. Flew in storms
the first two hours. Sure was nasty weather returning to base. Visibility and
ceiling was 0/0 for a while, flying right on the water and couldn't see past our wing
tips. 14 hour 20 minute mission very long. The medic said he saw enemy gunfire go up
at a formation of B-24's.
October 28, 1944 - Last strike covered at Tababutha. During this time we had
45 missions, with a total of 368 hours and 50 minutes. (August - October 1944)
October 31, 1944 -Early morning Jap strafing raid on our Morotai base. We
hit foxholes a 5:20 am. One Jap fighter shot down by our 20mm and 50 mm. Said
to be fighter and 2 Betty Bombers. There was a possibility of 1 bomber downed
also. The fighter made 3 runs
but did very little damage. There were 3 planes destroyed by our guns.
(Remington pilot #75).
November 1, 1944
- covered Celia
(Philippines) strike and what a day. We had 3 P-47 escorts and were
going in for a "Snafu" and by golly they engaged in a dogfight and left us
high and dry. Then 2 or 3 zeros attacked us from the rear. The
first pass put a 707 canon shell thru 3 bulk heads of old #75, and
then I grabbed the port blister guns and let one of them have it.
After that the darn gun jammed (I believe I did put a few in them because he
pulled off and left us). Sure hope he carried a few pieces of our lead
with him. They heard all about the situation back at the base before
we ever landed. There were 2 generals waiting for us on the strip (a 2 star and a 1 star). They
wanted to know the actual situation concerning the P-47's leaving us when they should have
been hovering right above us. (Traces on all sides for about 50 miles.)
Someone was really going to get chewed out. It was a 12 hour 40 minute
mission. From what the buddies said they heard on the radio by Tokyo Rose, a flying
boat had been shot down (meaning us) before we ever landed and were proved to be shaken
but OK. After our landing a fighter pilot came to our area (one of our escorts) and
said he did not expect to see us back at all. He said he saw 3 zeros take off after
us in our direction. He took after them and got 2. There must have been 1 or 2
more joined up with the remaining zero and they were probably the ones that jumped us. We
flew right on water so they couldn't get under us or we would have have been goners.
November 3, 1944 - flew local search unit of APO 719 (Morotai) looking for a
"Snafu" but could not find any. No more diary entries as I was taken off
flying status before we left Morotai.
- arrived at Zamboanga, and was promoted to Master
Sergeant. I was made Line Chief for "D" Flight, and was in this spot until the end of
July, 1945 - at the end of the month I left Leyte Gulf, Philippines, for home. Leaving
Zamboanga, going to Morotai, to Leyte Gulf, Philippines. Put aboard the S. S.
Sacajawea troop ship. After a
brief stop over at Guam (did not leave ship), we crossed the Pacific, taking 33 days.
August, 1945 - landed at Fort Lewis, Washington, end of August. I was
discharged from here, and given a train ticket for home. I arrived in Joliet,
Illinois on Saturday, September 3, 1945,
August, 1945 - Arrived in the States, and went to Fort Lewis, Washington at
the end of the month. I was discharged from Fort Lewis, and sent home by train.
September 3, 1945 - Arrived home, Joliet, Illinois about noon this day.
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