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Interview with Harold Brown [May 15, 2010]

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

I need to tell you that today is May the 15th, 9--2010. My name is Rebecca Wiggenhorn, and I am conducting an oral history interview at Clark State Community College, Greene Center, in Beavercreek, Ohio, with Harold Brown. Harold, would you please state your name and address for the record.

Harold Brown:

Harold H. Brown, [address redacted].

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Thank you, Harold. Harold, just to get started, I have a few questions; and as I'm asking these, if you think of something that you need to talk about or would like to talk about that I haven't asked about, please feel free to do so. First question, were you drafted or did you enlist?

Harold Brown:

No. I enlisted.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay. Where were you living at the time that you enlisted?

Harold Brown:

Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay. And why did you do that? Why did you join?

Harold Brown:

I wanted to become a military fighter pilot.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay. Why did you pick the service branch you joined?

Harold Brown:

Well, at that time, the Air Force--it wasn't the Air Force then, it was the Army Air Corps--those were the only people training military fighter pilots.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay. Do--do you recall your very first days in service?

Harold Brown:

Well, after taking all the exams and so forth to qualify for flight training, I had about a three- or a four-month wait to find out if I had been selected; and they notified me in December of 1944 that I had been selected and advised me to immediately enlist, and they would send all of the appropriate paperwork that would cause me to go down to Tuskegee. Rebecca Wiggenhorn:: Uh-huh.

Harold Brown:

So I waited around another two or three weeks, the paperwork came in, and then I was shipped from Minneapolis down to Biloxi, Mississippi, so that was really my, you know, first few days in the military. Now, how did I feel like? Well, going from the good state of Minnesota down to the deep south of Biloxi, Mississippi, in 1944--it was the first time that I had been South in my life--it was a rude awakening, and you can imagine what was going on down there with segregation being not only by tradition but by law, but that was right down into the bowels of the South, so it was interesting, to say the least.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Tell me about that experience. What did you experience in boot camp and during your training there?

Harold Brown:

Well, I was only there for just six weeks, and there were about 600 of us that was sent there, and they had just started doing that. Prior to that, they were going straight to Tuskegee for flight training, but they changed things around, and they were sending us down there for the first six weeks; and like I said, it was about 600 of us, and we were on one side of the field, completely segregated from everyone else on the field, and they just took us through, oh, some regular boot training, and then they retested all of us again, and then it was a result of the retesting that would determine whether or not you would go up to Tuskegee for flight training. And I was in the group of about a couple hundred of us that passed the second retesting; and after another few weeks, we were sent from Biloxi up to Tuskegee Institute up in Tuskegee, Alabama.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Do you remember your instructors--

Harold Brown:

No.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

--at the boot camp or at the training at Tuskegee?

Harold Brown:

Oh, oh, at Tuskegee, well, when we went up to Tuskegee, we were put in what was called a college training detachment, and we were living in dormitories right on Tuskegee Institute, which is now Tuskegee University.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Uh-huh.

Harold Brown:

And they put us through a rather rigorous curriculum, and the length of time you stayed in the curriculum was dependent upon the score that you made in the testing, and so I stayed in that program minimum time for just a few days past four months, and we had the regular instructors and whatnot right there at the institute who were teaching all of the classes and things, and we were just going there taking college training. And it was a designated curriculum that they had established for us only because we did not have any college education, at least most of us didn't. You see, prior to this time, you had to have four years of college to even think about going into military flight training. Then they reduced it to two years, and they still weren't getting enough people, so they reduced it to high school, assuming that you could pass the intelligence test and pass the physical test. So I was in that category, and I was fresh out of high school, 17 years old, when I applied for this. So for us young guys coming in, without college experience, then they sent us through a college training detachment, and we got four, five, six months of college training. I got the few days past the four months of college training at Tuskegee, and then they sent me out to the Air Force base, which is about eight miles north of Tuskegee.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Was the college training that you had, was it difficult? Was it rigorous? Did you--

Harold Brown:

Oh, yeah, it was very, very difficult.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Uh-huh.

Harold Brown:

The courses were quite rigorous. We had courses in physics, aerodynamics. We took a couple of mathematics courses. We took a couple of physical science courses. We took a course in--in weather. We also had to learn the Morse code at that time, and--well, that was just about it.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Uh-huh.

Harold Brown:

You know, the general areas that it covered.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

How--how did you get through that? Was it difficult for you to get through that?

Harold Brown:

Well, it was, you know, college-level training. You had to, you know, do your homework, study, and make good grades, which, you know, those of us who, you know, passed it, as far as I know, no one ever flunked out of that college training detachment--

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Uh-huh.

Harold Brown:

--that went up there. But, you know, you had to maintain grades and whatnot, which we all did, having gone that far, and this is something that all of us wanted in the worst way, so no one had to motivate us. We were well motivated, and this is something we're really, really striving for, so we, you know, persisted and got through the program.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Uh-huh. After your training, which wars did you serve in, Harold?

Harold Brown:

Which what?

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

War or wars did you serve in?

Harold Brown:

Okay. Well, I then spent the next approximately 12 months--no, it was less than that--about nine, ten months in flight training. After flight training, you got your wings and you were commissioned a second lieutenant, and that was in May of 1944 when I graduated, May 23rd, and that--is that my phone or yours?

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

I'm not sure. I think we're okay.

Harold Brown:

Okay. That's all right. I--I was hearing a lot of bloop, bloop, bloop.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Oh, okay.

Harold Brown:

Okay. And my class graduated with class 44-E, and it was May 23rd of 1944 when we graduated. From there, we went into a fighter training down in Walterboro, South Carolina, for approximately 60 to 70 days. We were flying the P-47 at that time. And then after we finished fighter training, then they shipped us overseas. That was in--in August or so we went up to the Port of Embarkation, which is up--up in Camp Patrick Henry up in Virginia, and there is where we boarded the ships and went overseas. We were in a convoy of just about a hundred ships, and it took us just about 31 days of being on the ocean before we saw the Straits of Gibraltar, but this is a big convoy, and, you know, there were zig-zagging. They would slow up. They would speed up. There were destroyer ships escorting us, and we would get enemy submarine reports, and they would change courses and all this sort of thing. So it took, like I said, 31 days from there to see the Straits of Gibraltar, and then we went to--another few days to Oran, Africa, and that's where we got off the ships, and we were in Oran, Africa, for approximately two or three days, and boarded another ship, and then went up to Naples, Italy. And then, from there, there for about three or four days, and then we went over to Ramitelli. Ramitelli was our Air Force base that we were heading towards, and that was on the Adriatic side of Italy, about 30, 35 kilometers north of Foggia, Italy, and that's where my base was at, and I arrived there in September of 1944.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Do you remember arriving there and can you tell me what it was like when you got there, how you felt?

Harold Brown:

Well, it was new. It was foreign to us. Our first trip overseas. At the time, I was 19 years old, you know. So it was all just a great big experience, exciting, looking forward to what we were going to do, with a certain amount of apprehension, of course--we would be flying combat, escorting the heavy bombers from Italy up into Germany--but at the same time very excited about the whole thing, and it was just an adventure, and--and it was that way really, you know, you know, throughout the war. You know, a certain amount of apprehension on every take off, since you were taking off with full wing tanks on your aircraft to give you range to escort the bombers, and that's about the best way I can describe it, very exciting. You know, something that we looked forward to, something that we trained for for more than a year, and--

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

So--

Harold Brown:

--we just enjoyed the moment.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Was--was--how many of you were there at that point, approximately?

Harold Brown:

Well, they trained the total of a thousand people down--pilots down in Tuskegee; and from July 1941 to July 1946, a thousand pilots were trained. Out of that thousand pilots, 450 of us were selected as fighter pilots to go overseas, and we fought the war over in the European theatre. The other pilots stayed in the States and became bomber pilots, and they were just getting ready to be shipped to the Far East when the war ended, so the other 550 pilots didn't get the opportunity to go overseas to fight the war. It ended before they got there. But--but out of those 450 pilots that went overseas, you have to remember that we went over there, starting with--the first squadron went over in 19--1943, and those 450 were going over in intervals from 1943 all the way up until 1945 because pilots would finish their tour of duty, would come back home, and new pilots would replace them.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Uh-huh.

Harold Brown:

Like I said, there were a total of 450 of us that--that went through that experience from 1943 to 1955, when--when the war ended.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

So you saw quite a bit of combat during that time?

Harold Brown:

Well, I flew 30 missions, and I was shot down twice. And on my 30th mission, I became a POW at that time. The earlier time I was shot down was on December 12th, chasing an Me 262 jet, which I should not have been doing. I should have broken it off; but when you are 19 years old, the exuberance of youth, and there you go, and your eagerness in making judgments that otherwise your good judgments would say, Harold, break it off and go home, but by that time we were there, myself and my wingman, and we got--we got hit by flak. He made it back home. I got over the bomb line back down into northern Italy into friendly territory and ran out of fuel, and I just crashlanded the airplane, but that was on the 12th of December. I think that was my 12th or 13th mission.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Were--were you hurt--were you hurt?

Harold Brown:

Nope. All I did was dusted off my uniform after I tore the airplane up.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Well, tell--the next time, then, you were taken as a prisoner of war.

Harold Brown:

Yeah. My 30th mission, we were on a strafing mission up close to Linz, Austria, and that's the one that I got shot down on--

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay.

Harold Brown:

--and bailed out of the aircraft and was picked up about 30 minutes later, walked back to the last little village that we had strafed, and that was rather interesting because they always told you to get as far away from the target as possible, primarily because there's a lot of angry people down there when you are shooting up the town, not that you are shooting at them, but you are still shooting the place up. And my airplane didn't run long enough, last long enough to get me out of the target area because I had to bail out of it almost immediately, and they picked me up, a couple of constables, and walked me back to the village, and we were met by a mob of some 30, 35 people, very, very angry people. And they--of course, I couldn't speak German, nothing, and I didn't know what they were talking about, but you understand signs when they are making signs, like a gun or the sign of--of the noose of rope. You know, you can interpret that all right, but they got ready to hang me, and a constable came up behind me and held the people at bay and put me behind them, and we walked about a block or so back up into the village to a little pub with them following, hollering and screaming. We barricaded ourselves in there, and they finally dispersed, and around midnight or so we left. We left the little pub out the back door and walked several kilometers down to another little village; and then from there, to another little village where they called someone in the military and, oh, two or three hours later a couple of soldiers came up and picked me up; and then they took me to another little village where they put me in a small cell where I stayed for about three or four days.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

What was that experience like for you? Were you--were you scared?

Harold Brown:

I was scared as hell. {Laughter.} You know, you are there. You don't know what's going to happen. You don't know the language. Every time, you know, they would walk up to the cell, I'm wondering, well, what are they--what are they going to do to me now, you know? And like I said, I was a young kid and just didn't know for sure what was going to happen, and that was the scary part of it, not knowing what was going to happen the next minute. And while I was in the cell, a--a big bomb raid went over. I can hear the bombers going over, and that evening one of the bombers had been shot down, and they rounded up the crew of the bomber, and they brought them into the cell with me. And, of course, they had just survived an airplane that was shot up. They had all bailed out successfully, and they were all wild eyed and, you know, and half-frightened to death themselves, so I imagine how I looked back when I bailed out. So they brought them in, and they had about four cells there and divided them up, you know, three or four in each little cell; and I can remember a little Jewish kid was--of course, they looked at me, and they said, hey, who are you, you know? I said, well, I'm just like you. I'm a pilot, yack, yack, and whatnot, in the 15th Air Force. Yeah, yeah, I probably escorted you at some earlier time, and so they said, well, what's going on? I said, beats me. You know, I don't speak German, and so one little kid came up. He said he was frightened to death because he was Jewish, and I said, well, you know, all you got to do is keep your mouth shut and nobody will ever know you are Jewish, you know. So I said you got it made. Look at me. I can't hide. They know what I am. And, of course, we laughed over it, ha-ha-ha, you know, because it was meant to be a joke, but it was still a fact. And then from that point on, it took us about eight, nine days of traveling on all the various modes of transportation, buses, trains, trucks, and everything, because they were taking us from that little village all the way up to Nuremberg to where the big interrogation center was, and it took us just about eight days to get there, and that was an adventure because once we were on a train for a few hours, and we looked out and there was a flight of P-51s sitting up there, and then it dawned on us, hey, they are getting ready to strafe--to strafe this train, and that was the most horrible experience I had ever been through, to see these guys coming down, strafing that train. We all were ducking in little corners in the passenger portion of the train hoping the guy could get into the tunnel before the train really--you know, before he really blew the whole train up, which he managed to do; but, you know, you had those kinds of--of events as you were trying to get, you know, over eight days of traveling from A up to Nuremberg for the interrogation center. But, other than that, you know, those are some of the things that we went through. The reason why we were going to Nuremberg, that's where they had the famous interrogation center, Stalag Luft, and they were retreating from the Americans that were making very fast gains during that time of the war. You know, they had already landed in Normandy, and they were now moving very rapidly across Europe, pushing the Germans back, so the Germans kept moving back and back, and they finally put the interrogation center in Nuremberg only because the Americans were getting so close to them. So--and it's interesting because the only people that they really interrogated like that were the airmen, but airmen were always down in friendly territory, and they knew what was going on, papers, newspapers, and everything else. Soldiers out in the field, on the frontline, didn't have that opportunity. They were just fighting day to day to day to day, and they didn't know what was going on except what they were told what was going on. They were never waved back, you know, in a--in a safe place behind lines where they could hear all the news and whatnot and know what was going on with the war, so this is why they interrogated all of the airmen but didn't interrogate many of the ground troops that they captured.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

What was that--what was that interrogation like?

Harold Brown:

Well, it was interesting, to say the least. The first time I went in, my interrogator was a major in the German Army. He spoke perfect English, and he had gone to school over in--over in England, and so he asked me a series of questions, and, of course, we were always trained, no, nope, you don't answer. All you do is just give them your name, rank, and serial number, and that was what I was doing. And he was sitting there, kind of smiled at me, saying, yeah, I know Harold, name, rank, and serial number, I know all about how they train you guys. Okay. So he asked me, oh, a bunch of trivial questions and whatnot that didn't really amount to a heck of a lot, but then he told me--he says, I'm going to bring you back in here tomorrow morning, and he says, you are going to tell me everything I want to know or else I'm going to turn you over to the civilians. Well, that will strike fear in the bravest man's heart because civilians were the ones who were really suffering all of the bombings and, you know, the strafings, and all of the other attacks a great deal, and the casualty rates were probably higher amongst civilians than it was against, you know, the Army itself. So with those kinds of threats, it gives you reasons to stay up that night and wondering, well, is this guy serious or not? So he brought me back in the next day, and--and he looked at me, and he says, well, Harold, he says, I don't believe there's anything you can tell me that I don't know. And I thought, well, that was strange, so he took me into another room, and there he had four great big blue notebooks. On one notebook it was 332, which was our fighter group, the 332nd Fighter Group. Then he had the 99th Fighter Squadron, the 100th Fighter Squadron on another big notebook, the 301st and 302nd, all of our squadrons. So he says you were in the 99th Fighter Squadron, weren't you? And I wondered, well, how in the world did he know that? And he says, the reason why I know is because the airplane that you crashed is--the numbers on that aircraft was A32, and we know that it's only the 99th that has the A in front of their numbers--which was the case. So, you know, again, name, rank, serial number, and I just kind of looked at him and, you know, smiled. He says, yeah, yeah, I know. So we went through a series of things like this, and then he said, well, I am sending you back to the camp. I'm through with you. And then he offered me a great big orange. Oh, boy, that was one of the biggest oranges I've seen. I'm wondering, where in the world do they get oranges at, but he gave me the big orange, you know; and as a matter of fact, he became quite friendly. He says, well, he says, when you get in--in prison camp, you know, don't try to escape but don't give the guards any reason to shoot you. He says, the war isn't going to go on much longer, and he says, there isn't any doubt that it's just a matter of time before the Germans' Army is going to have to surrender, and he wished me luck; and, you know, I said, well, you know, see you later. And at that point they then sent me about 10 miles down to the big POW camp, and this was--Stalag Luft VII A was the prison camp up in Nuremberg, and there is where I was interred.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

How long were you there then?

Harold Brown:

Well, we were only there for approximately a little over two weeks; and, incidentally, the compound that I went into was--who did I see hanging on the fence on that compound was my dear friend and classmate, George Iles, who had been shot down two weeks earlier, and we thought that he had made it into Switzerland, but his plane gave out on him and he crashlanded right before he got to Switzerland and they caught him right at the border, and he was interred in Nuremberg. So when I came in in Nuremberg, there he was, and I wound up in the same compound with him. Each compound was just a small section. They had the whole prison divided up into sections, and they had about 200 men in each one of these little, you know, sections, and there was a total of 10,000 of us there in Nuremberg, so I spent the rest of the time with him, which was nice, you know, seeing my--seeing a good friendly face, and someone who was, you know, a dear friend, but we spent the rest of the time together in the POW. But after we had been there for about two weeks, the Americans, who were getting close--so they said they had to evacuate us--so they evacuated all 10,000 of us, and we had to walk from Nuremberg down to Moosburg which was--it took us just about two weeks to walk that distance, and you can imagine a string of 10,000 men in groups of 200, you know. We were quite a mob, you know, walking. And in the evening they would just put us on some farm and--with a couple of guards around 2 or 300 of us, and the next morning, you know, we were off walking again, but that was not bad. That was much nicer than being cooped up in that prison camp, you know, living out under the stars that way, and at the places--there were times we were in a close proximity of a farm. We would walk up to the farm, and--we lived off what they called food parcels that were brought in by the--by the Red Cross. The Germans didn't have any food, and they could hardly feed themselves. So what kept us alive was the Red Cross getting these food parcels in to us, and we would get a food parcel, oh, every seven to ten days if we were lucky, but for the most part the food parcels were coming in. Of course, the Germans were taking their share of them, and this is what--what they were eating off of too. But in the food parcels, there was chocolate, a lot of tins of foods and things, but there was chocolates and cigarettes, and we use--I didn't smoke, and many of the guys didn't smoke, and I looked like a little baby, so they would give me all the cigarettes, and I would go up to the door, knock on the door 'cause I looked so, so young, and I would beg for potatoes. Haben sie potatoes or--fr Zigarettens, and--oh, I knew just a few, you know, German words, just to identify the food that I was asking for, and I would trade cigarettes for them. So--

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Was that successful?

Harold Brown:

It was reasonably successful. You know, sometimes I would get three or four potatoes. Other times, they say, nein, nein, nein, you know, no, and--so that was kind of nice.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

The food parcels, was the food-- what was the food like?

Harold Brown:

Well, they had--everything was in cans; and, of course, back in those days, even the food that, you know, the military is eating, everything was in rations, and these rations were all in very large cans. Well, the food parcel was those kinds of rations, only they were in smaller cans, and you could get things like--ham and eggs was in a very small can or some kind of a stew is in a very small can, and there were several of these little tins of cans, and they had a couple of chocolate bars in there. They have a couple of small packs of cigarettes in there, and--and the whole package was--oh, I would guess, it was just about 10 inches by 10 inches and maybe about, oh, five to six inches, you know--

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Did it taste good?

Harold Brown:

--you know, in thickness.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Did it taste good?

Harold Brown:

At that time, everything tastes good. I can remember, oh, once while we were--while we were out walking on the trip from Nuremberg down, they would occasionally bring out a big pot of what they called soup, but it was nothing but just almost water really, and they would also give you one loaf of bread for seven airmen, and you had your own little groups of seven. So when you got your little loaf of bread, the cutter and you would--that duty would rotate amongst the seven, he would divide the bread up in seven equal parts, and all seven of you would look at it and you say are you satisfied that those were all even, yeah, and then he would very carefully cut that bread, you know, so it was a nice straight cut, and you would take your slice and all of the crumbs that went along with it. So--you were always hungry, and I can remember one day the soup came in, and the guys were saying, hey, boys, there is--there's some nice corn, beans, rather, in--in the soup. Well, we looked a little closer at it, but the beans, when they had cooked it, was loaded with weevils, so there was weevils, you know, floating all around in the soup along with the beans. So I looked at my good friend, George Iles. I said, George, what do you think? Are you going to eat that stuff? He said, Harold, I'm hungry. I said I am too, so we just helped ourselves and we ate our bowls of it. Now, some of the guys couldn't quite handle it and became a little ill and that sort of stuff, but we went back for seconds, said, hey, it's a little protein, you know. It's not going to hurt you and--so, yes, everything tastes good, everything was wonderful, and those food parcels were fantastic 'cause I was reasonably young. I was very slim, 5'8-1/2". I only weighed 131 pounds when I went in, so I was a rather slim guy, and I don't know if--if Marsha has sent you any pictures. Did she mail pictures to you?

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Not to me, Harold. She may have mailed some--

Harold Brown:

Oh, oh, okay. Well, I was going to say there's a picture of me. In one of the pictures, I was 20 years old when I came home, and you look at that picture, I was a very, very slim young man, and my ribs were actually starting to show just a little bit by the time I was liberated. So you were always hungry. The rations, you only had a small amount of food in it, so you would just kind of parcel the food out to yourself so it wouldn't run out. So in answer to your question, yes, it tasted very good.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Do you remember how much you weighed when you were liberated or released?

Harold Brown:

No, I don't. As a matter of fact, I don't even remember weighing--weighing myself. When we were liberated, they--they immediately took us over to another little camp, Camp Lucky Strike, and they deloused us, took all of our clothes, burned them, gave us new clothes, and I never remember stepping on a scale. I don't know if they even had any there, but--but I had definitely--you know, we had all definitely lost weight. But how much, I don't know.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Were you awarded any medals or citations for your time over there?

Harold Brown:

Oh, I received the Air Medal with two Oakleaf clusters, and then our group escorted--the 15th Air Force made one trip to Berlin. I think it was primarily to say that they had bombed Berlin. There was only one wing of B-17s we had, and it was the only heavy bomber that had the range to go to Berlin, and that was a 1,600-mile round-trip, and even the fighters had to have oversize wingtips with fuel in order to escort them up and back. It was the longest mission that the 15th Air Force flew, and our 332nd group was not originally assigned to fly that mission, but by this time we had created quite a reputation, and most of the bomber boys were actually asking for us. They were requesting us as their escort on their regular bombers 'cause B.O. Davis, who was our commander, he was a West Pointer, came out of West Point in 1936, wanted the Air Force but his father was a brigadier general at the time, and they denied him then, you know, because he's an Afro-American, he was denied that request. So when they opened up flying to us, then he was one the first ones that they brought in, and being a West Pointer--as a matter of fact, the only West Pointer, he spent four years at West Point, and no one even spoke to him except in an official capacity. He lived by himself the entire four years while he was at West Point, but nevertheless he was our commander, and he was a colonel by this time, and he was very, very strict, and he made it very clear--I remember when I got there--he said you are here for one reason. Your mission is to protect the bombers; and if you ever leave these bombers unprotected, going off looking for personal victories or aerial victories, he said, don't come back because I'll court-martial you. So that was our job. As fighter pilots, you were to escort those bombers. Your job was to get them up there, drop the bombs over target, and get them back home safely. So the only time we ever engaged the enemy was when the enemy engaged us, and we just stuck with the bombers. Well, and that became our big reputation, because it wasn't happening that--that much with many of the other fighter groups. And we were all in just one fighter group, the Red Tails of 332nd Fighter Group, and--so we got quite a reputation. So there were times when they would--on a tough mission, they would say, hey, who's our escort? Well, the Red Tails. Hey, great. If it wasn't the Red Tails, they would request us. Sometimes they would, you know, reassign us. Sometimes they wouldn't, but they did on the trip to Berlin. They asked who was escorting, and there was a couple of other groups that was on the escort, but one of the third groups, they asked that they be replaced by us. So they reassigned one of the fighter groups and put us in their place, primarily because of the bomber pilots' request, so this is how we flew that mission. That was the big mission where we ran into something like--something like 40, 50 Me 262s, which were the new jet aircraft that the Germans had built, extremely fast. And, unfortunately, they didn't mass produce them, or it would have prolonged the war a little bit; but, nevertheless, we shot down several of them. We had several damages. We got the aircraft back, and for that mission they gave us a Presidential Unit Citation to the fighter group. So along with the Air Medal and two clusters, we also got the Presidential Unit Citation.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Did your group suffer many casualties, Harold, while you were involved with them?

Harold Brown:

Well, out of the 450 pilots that went overseas to fight, we had 62 of them were killed in combat. Another 32 of them--and I was one of the 32--was shot down and became POWs. So our casualty rate was right about 94 out of 450, which was just a little less than par for the course. That was just about a 25 percent casualty rate. It was just a little less than that. So that was pretty much in the ballpark for, you know, the average figure for--most of the fighter groups were losing at about that same rate.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Was there anything special you did before a mission perhaps for good luck?

Harold Brown:

No, but they would--we didn't know what the mission was. We just knew we were flying the next day. About 4:30, 5:00 or so in the morning, they would come in, would wake--wake you up. Okay. Yep, we're flying today, and everybody get up. Everybody would get dressed. You would jump on the truck and you would go down to the operations office, the group operations officer, and that's where all of the pilots--we had four squadrons, and each squadron would put up, oh, anywhere from 15, 18 aircraft; and we were the only group that had four squadrons because, again, we stayed together as a--as a black fighter group. We didn't fly with white pilots, you know, segregation and all of that stuff. So--so we were putting up anywhere from--anywhere from 50 plus aircraft up to as many as 70 aircraft. So those were all the pilots that was in the big briefing room, and we have, you know, a hundred or so of people in there, plus the operations people and everyone else, and we had a big briefing. We had a big map on the wall; and, you know, they have a string going from our base, you know, to the various targets, and they would give you the time where you had to pick up the bombers and the time you had to be there, your take-off times and whatnot. So after the briefing, you would go down to your aircraft. You would suit up, parachute, get in your airplane. They would all start up, and we only had just one landing strip, but on each corner of the landing strip we would have--we would have a squadron, so squadrons would line up on each end of the four corners of this long--mile-long landing strip, and at the right time they start flagging you off; and, of course, you would put the aircraft in the air as soon as possible, and you would, you know, form and take-off, go up to the rendezvous point, and you knew your--the bombers' markings and whatnot, and all of the bombers have markings on the tail, so you could tell which was your bombers that you had--that you were assigned to escort for that mission. So this is what you would do, you know, and you would pick them up and so forth; and if you didn't run into anything, fine. Sometimes we would run into a lot of fighter attacks, and you fight them off, and hope that you get your bombers back, and--and we had a reputation for losing very, very few bombers. We--we did lose a few bombers, but it was very, very few in comparison to the other groups. Of course, that was all part of our reputation and why the bomber groups were always requesting us for their fighter escort.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

How did you feel right before a mission? Did you feel pressure or stress or excitement or--

Harold Brown:

Oh, there was--there was a small amount of apprehension, you know, primarily because you were carrying wing tanks loaded with fuel, and, you know, the aircraft was still nothing but a mechanical device; and when you are taking that many airplanes, you would have two or three airplanes on the take-off roll at the same time. The one that is breaking ground, one--another one about a hundred two yards behind, and another one about 300 yards behind him and whatnot, and I can remember one day I wasn't flying, but I was watching the take-off; and to show you what can happen, the first aircraft engines gave out, quit on him, so he pulled straight ahead off of the runway, another aircraft, three or four down, his engine quit, so he goes to the right side of the first aircraft. Another aircraft's engine quits. He goes to the left side. So now you got three airplanes down there, and then they had a fourth airplane and a fifth airplane whose engines quit. The fourth airplane ran into the one on the right and there was a big explosion. Fortunately-- [Interview interrupted.]

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

I think we missed a little bit of what you were saying.

Harold Brown:

Well, did I tell you about the four aircraft that lost their engines on take-off?

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Yes. And there was an explosion.

Harold Brown:

Okay. And there were two fireballs we had down there.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay.

Harold Brown:

But they still continued taking the aircraft off, you know, because you still got a mission to fly, so those are the things that you really sweat it out; and if you had any apprehension--and everyone had a small amount of apprehension, you know, on, you know, take-off, because that engine could quit on you, you know, at any minute, so that was--that was the only thing that you really sweated, was the take-off. Once you got airborne, then it was no sweat. The only thing you sweated out was, flying the whole mission, you were flying deep up into Germany. The missions were running anywhere from six, six and a half, seven hours, in that little single engine, and there were a number of guys who would get up--you start having engine problems. You would have to leave, and you would head back home by yourself, and you just hoped that the engine would keep running long enough so that you could get back into friendly territory, so if the engine quit, you could at least bail out, but you would be in friendly territory.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Why would--

Harold Brown:

So the other thing that caused, you know--you didn't worry about it, but you--but that was always with you; and whenever an engine started running rough or whatnot, you know, you sit there and say uh-oh, is this thing going to keep running to get me back home or is this thing going to quit on me? But other than that, that was the only thing that, you know, caused you any reason to sweat out or to be apprehensive.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Did you always fly the same plane?

Harold Brown:

We all had our own plane and our own mechanics, but there were times when your aircraft was broken or was being repaired, and they always had spare aircraft, so you would fly a different aircraft. But, for the most part, I normally flew the one airplane usually, or at least every time it was flyable and I was flying, then that's the one that I flew. But I had my airplane. I had my own, you know, mechanic, my own armament men, and so forth.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Did you have a co-pilot?

Harold Brown:

Oh, no, no. These were all fighters, single engine. They were single-engine, single-seater fighter--fighter aircraft.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Was the engine going out or quitting, was that a common thing or why did that happen?

Harold Brown:

Well, it was just a mechanical device, an,d you know, engines sometime run perfectly, and sometimes they start acting up, and they don't run perfectly, so this was not uncommon at all. It would happen periodically. Matter of fact, I don't think we ever flew on a mission that I can remember that everyone completed the mission. Somebody someplace along the way would run into an engine problem and would have to leave and turn around and go back home.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Uh-huh. Changing the topic--

Harold Brown:

So--

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

I'm sorry.

Harold Brown:

Yes. So you always had two, three aircraft, four aircraft, you know, depending upon what it was that would not complete the mission.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

And how many would start out on the mission, generally?

Harold Brown:

Oh, anywhere from--anywhere from 60 to 70 aircraft.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay. Okay. Changing the topic just a little bit, did you go on leave while you were there at all?

Harold Brown:

We would have what we call R and R. After you flew X number of missions, you would then go to rest and recuperation. We had a big, pretty hotel down in Naples, Italy, which was our--which was our rest center. I went on two of those before I was shot down. But after you flew, oh, 10, 12 missions or so, then they would send you down there for just one week, and--and we would go down to Naples. Of course, you know, there was some nightlife going on down in Naples, and there were, you know, a number of bars and you name it, and we stayed at a nice hotel, good food, and there was a bar there in the hotel, a very, very nice hotel. Matter of fact, we were right on the bay; and from our hotel, I could look across the bay and I could see Mount--Mount Vesuvius right over there, so beautiful view. So you would go down on a Friday, and you would come back on a Friday, and--

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

When--

Harold Brown:

So--

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

You said after 10 or 12 missions, generally, you would get take to the leave?

Harold Brown:

Yes.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

How often did you fly a mission? How long would that take, generally, before you met the 10 or 12?

Harold Brown:

Well, it all depended because when I first went there, there was a period of time when the winter set in, and there were days where we would stand down four, five, six days because the weather was--was so bad. And that was during, you know, the worst part, in December and in January. Now, we did fly missions, but we didn't fly as many missions, so--so the weather at times would cause you not to be able to fly, but I can remember when--when February came up, jeez, I think I flew something like 13, 14 straight missions every day, but February was a really big day, and we flew missions every day in the month of February. So I only mention those two just to contrast between good weather days when you would fly out almost every day and bad weather months and you may only fly maybe 14, 15 days out of 30 days.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

During this time, how did you stay in touch with family or--or were you able to?

Harold Brown:

I didn't. Oh, I would--oh, I would. I would periodically write, but I was a horrible writer, and I would write home, you know, periodically, and Ma would write me back, and I would periodically get--get a letter or so, but I was a horrible writer.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

So I bet you didn't keep a personal diary then, or did you?

Harold Brown:

No, I didn't, and that's one of the things that I really regret not doing, but I didn't, so too late now.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay. What did you think of your fellow soldiers or the officers that you worked with? Were--

Harold Brown:

Well, only because we were a segregated unit, we all knew each other, so we were, you know--we knew all of the guys. The guys who went there before us, they were our upper classmates, and they came home and we replaced them. You know, we knew almost everybody that was in the outfit or a good 80 percent of them, so just one great big happy family, and maybe that was one of the, you know, nice things about being segregated, because even when you came back home, all you could do was to go back to Tuskegee as a--as a flight instructor if you came home after you flew X number of missions. So you were either fighting the war or you were back down in Tuskegee, and those are the only places that you were at, so you knew everybody.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay. Do you recall the day that your service ended?

Harold Brown:

No. Is that when I retired or--

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Yes. When you left the service completely.

Harold Brown:

Okay. I left the service on May the 31st, 1965, and at that time I was in SAC, Strategic Air Command, and this was long after they had integrated the Air Force and, you know, and everything had changed. I spent my last 10 years in the Strategic Air Command, and I was flying the old six-engine jet bomber, the B-47, and I had a select crew. That was the highest rating you could get. My pilot and co-pilot got the spot promotions once we became select. I was an instructor pilot on the B-47. There was only a handful of us in the whole group that were instructor pilots. And then the last four years, five years I was in SAC, they moved me up to a controller; and the SAC controller, you had to be handpicked by your wing commander to work in the command post, but that is how SAC ran those days. Every one of the bases and whatnot was run through a series of command posts. We were in the 8th Air Force. We had a big central command post there. Then in each one of the bases, we would have a command post, and everything went from SAC to the number Air Force, and from there to each of the command posts. You had the log of the daily flight operations. You were responsible for the emergency war operations, and you see, back in those days, remember, we were in a cold war. We had a third of our bombers that was constantly on alert, and those guys were on alert for seven days at a time. And when you are on alert, you were there with your crew. Your airplane was all ready to go. We would have periodic exercises where we would--where we would ring the bell, and you would go out and you have to start up our engine, and then we give them a coded message and tell them, no, this is just an exercise, you know. So they shut the engines down, you know, but they stayed there right there for seven days at a time; and the entire Strategic Air Command, a third of them, was on alert at any one time and we had almost 1,500 B-47s at that time. So you are looking at, what, approximately 500 of them was on alert, and that is around the world, those that were stationed here in the States, but we also had airplanes over--over in England, which was our reflex site. We had a small command over there, and we would periodically fly from Lockbourne down in Columbus, Ohio, which is where I spent my last 10 years in SAC, and we would fly from there over to Upper Heyford, England, and we would stay over there for three weeks. We would land, stay on alert for one week, then we would get one week off, stay on alert for the third week, and then we would take our airplanes and fly back to Lockbourne. So, you know, this is the way they ran, you know, the cold war during those days.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Once--once that was over and you were done doing that, you were out of the service.

Harold Brown:

Yes.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

What did you do then in the days and weeks after that? Did you go to work, or did you go back to school or--

Harold Brown:

No. What I did was I--I spent about three or four years as an instructor in--in the military, and I was an instructor pilot throughout my whole career in the military, so the idea of instructing was something I was very, very familiar with. So as soon as I got out, I went over--well, matter of fact, before I even got out, I went over and visited the Columbus public school system to see if they had any of the two-year colleges in existence. I did not want to go in the high school because my thinking was, you know, one of these little smart kids gets smart with me and I'm going to haul off and set them down and he's going to go home and tell his dad. Then his dad is going to come in. Then I'm going to have a fight with his dad, and I'm going to get fired. So I said, no, no, no K through 12 for me, but I had read an awful lot about the two-year schools, and they were really big in a--a number of states. They were big in Texas, big in Illinois, big out in California. They had junior colleges, but I didn't hear that much about them here in the State of Ohio. So I went down to Columbus School District and they said, well, it's interesting you should ask because we just started a school, the Columbus Area Technician School, grade 13 and 14, so I said okay. So they were in the basement of Central High School, so I went up there and talked to the director, a guy by the name of Clinton Tasch, who was the director of this school. They had three programs, a handful of students, and about 10 or 12 instructors. So I was getting my degree in mathematics from--from OU and--because I wanted to go into engineering, so I told him, you know, my credentials, you know, mathematics, but I had a lot of the physical sciences, physics, you know, physical sciences and whatnot, and they said, boy, just what we're looking for. So I signed the contract with them back in March. I retired in May. That summer, I went down to the school and, because I had nothing better to do, got myself familiarized with the program; but then it was also during the summer that the school district bought the old Aquinas High School site, which was a Catholic high school site, and that summer we relocated the school from the basement of Central High School, which is where the--where the science center is at now, and this is right across--right on the river of the Scioto River in downtown Columbus, and we relocated up to that site. So that fall quarter, when we started school, we had about 500 students, when we started in September of '65. During the first quarter, I was teaching math and physics; and halfway through, the two electronics instructors got offers that they just couldn't turn down with North American. And you got to remember, in '65, we were well on our way of building--of going to the moon, and rocket shots were very big. Matter of fact, that was the best advertisement in the world. They would have--they would have a rocket shot going on, and the next day we were murdered with students trying to get into school, because we were very big in engineering technology at that time, and that was our biggest program, all of them, electronics, mechanical, chemical, you name it. So those two people left, and Clinton Tasch came to me and said, Harold, did you say that you were an electronics officer? Yeah, I was. And you taught it in the military? Yes, I did. They said, well, can you take over, you know, this program? I said, yeah, I can take it over. It's nothing but a handful of students, and I was responsible for a whole electronics school for navigators, and I had 1,500 students that I was responsible for. So I took it over and I became chairman of, quote, electronics engineering, which was one of the biggest programs going. Well, we started growing very, very rapidly; and within the next three years, jeez, we must have had--oh, I guess we had close to eight, nine hundred students, so we reorganized into divisions, and they gave me my choice of whatever division I wanted, and we had the engineering technology division, the business division, and--and that was just about it at that time. So I took over the engineering division. I was the dean of that division. And then the school was still continuing to grow; and then in the early '70s, we were up to just about 2,000 students and they asked me to be the vice president of academic affairs; and I, of course, took it, and I stayed in that position; but then, in the meantime, I went back to school and got my master's and Ph.D. from OSU. I got the Ph.D. in 1973 from OSU, and then I retired from there in 1986.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay. Your education from OU and OSU, were those supported by the G.I. Bill at all?

Harold Brown:

Every dime of it. Matter of fact, when I finished my last hour of my last dissertation with my Ph.D. is when I ran exactly out of money. I used every dime.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Wow. Let me ask you this: While you were in the service, did you make any close friends that you still stay in contact with?

Harold Brown:

In the military?

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Yes.

Harold Brown:

Oh, we're all friends. Matter of fact, we have a--we have a big organization. It's a national organization that was formed in 1975, and the national organization was the Tuskegee Airmen, and we had the national, but then we had chapters, and we got chapters--we must have about 30-some chapters located throughout the United States. And every year we have the national meeting of--of the Tuskegee Airmen, and we either have it--we rotate. It's--in the west, we have the western sector, the central sector, and the eastern sector. This year, it's going to be in the central, down in San Antone starting in--I believe it's in August. The meetings are held--I mean the ____+ 1975. Now, I don't make all of them. I used to make a lot of them, but now I just kind of pick-- [Interview interrupted.]

Harold Brown:

We were talking about the national chapter?

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Yes.

Harold Brown:

Then did I tell you where the meeting is being held this year down in San Antone?

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

San Antonio, yes.

Harold Brown:

Okay. And--

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

You said you--

Harold Brown:

So this has been going on since 1975. Now, I don't attend every meeting. I used to attend a lot of them, but--but what they did is they--we were a dying organization, so they decided to have other people become members of the Tuskegee Airmen, people who were not originally there, and they have four categories of people. One, there is a category involving descendants of Tuskegee Airmen, and they can immediately become members. Then there's another one that will handle people who are in the Air Force presently, and they can join. And then there are two others, and I can't remember what the categories are. So now even though we may have some seven, eight hundred people all as members of the Tuskegee Airmen, there's only a small fraction of them that were all part of the original Tuskegee Airmen, because death has, you know, caught up with so many of them. So out of the thousand pilots, we're estimating that there probably isn't much, many more than a hundred at the maximum that are left, but for every pilot, there was a approximately 10 people on the ground supporting us. So there's probably was originally close to 10,000 ground personnel, and we figured that now those numbers are probably down to something less than 4--three to four hundred people. So out of the original almost 11, 12,000 people who was all a part of this effort, it's now down to nothing more but something less than a hundred pilots and something less than 300 ground support people. But we had everything. We had our own hospital, our own MPs, our own cooks, mechanics, radiomen, armament men. We were actually a self-contained Air Force during those early days when we were all segregated, and we had--everything was, you know, Afro-American.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Right. Did your military experience overall influence how you think about war or about the military in general, Harold?

Harold Brown:

Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Before then, I didn't know anything about it. You know.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay.

Harold Brown:

And, yep, I--I had some very definite opinions about, you know, the military, and everything, you know, that's going on in this good country now.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Is there anything about those opinions that you would like to share?

Harold Brown:

Well, I don't believe in war. There's got to be a better way. We haven't found a better way yet, so good, bad, or indifferent, we're still getting ourselves involved in wars that we got no business being involved in; but one of these days, hopefully, you know, people will wake up and start using other means to solve their differences, but I don't think I'll see that in my lifetime. But--do I believe in them? No. However, depending upon the way things are, I recognize I got to be real and practical about it. We still have to have a good, strong military defense out there because there are a lot of crazies; and as yet, we haven't decided upon how we're going to solve these differences so, you know, there isn't any alternative. We just can't go without a military; but to the extent possible, we should do everything that we can rather than jumping the gun and going off fighting a war without at least giving diplomacy a chance to work, but that's what I think about the military.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

How did your service and your experience in the military impact or affect your life overall?

Harold Brown:

Oh, my goodness. Without the military--you know, I was in a command position. I was a squadron commander for a while. I had, you know, several, you know, positions in which I was the--I was the top commander, meaning I was the top administrator, so I had to run it. I had a budget I had to worry about. I had people I had to worry about. I got a fantastic background, you know; and it more than, you know, prepared me, you know, to go on. I--I actually didn't really pursue a presidency. I only pursued one of them, and that was president of the YMCA Community College up in New York, and they had something that--I mean, Chicago--Marsha just corrected me--up in Chicago, and at that time they had 20,000 students, and they had 20 different campuses, and I wound up being one of--one of two candidates who they had to decide between. I made several trips back and forth to Chicago interviewing, and I did not get it, but it was interesting because the guy who was running it used to be at the University of Akron. He was the president there, and I can't think of his name right now, but he was handling the search. And he called me, and he said, Harold, he says, let's chit-chat. He says, do you know how close you were to getting that job? I said, well, to be quite frank with you, I thought they wanted me so bad that they were going to make me an offer that I couldn't refuse. And he said, well, they wanted you, but they said that they kept waiting for you to come to them to say, hey, I'm ready, I want this job, I'll be there tomorrow morning at 8:00, just tell me where--where to report, and I said that never dawned on me. He said, you learned a good lesson. He said, when you are going for the top job, sooner or later you must make the move to go to them. You will never be so big or so important that they will come down to you and say we want you so bad--no. Someplace you got to indicate to them, without question, hey, I'll be on the job tomorrow morning. This is the job for me. We're a perfect match. Tell me where to report. And I failed to do that, and that's the reason why I didn't get the job.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Did--did that have an impact on you, that--that statement coming from him?

Harold Brown:

Yep. It taught me a good lesson. If I ever try for another job, you know, sooner or later, I will know precisely how to behave; but after that, you know, I had been at--at Columbus State for a while. We were growing like crazy. At that time, we had 10,000 students, of credits students. We had 3,500 noncredit students, and I was getting a little older, and I just didn't feel as if I had anything more to offer. I had just run out of ideas, and I had sat in that job as the vice president for--for 12 years, and I said it's just time for me to move on, let younger people come in with fresh ideas. And--and I was close to 62 at that time anyway, so I just gave it up, and--and that was the end of it.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Is that when you became involved with Clark State at that point?

Harold Brown:

Yeah. I--that was when--after I left, I then started Brown--Brown and Associates, and it was during that time--of course, I had known Al, and I was doing a lot of consulting work, and Al called me and asked me to come over for, you know, for a while, and I stayed over there--oh, what about--six, seven months or so until Pat Skinner, we got her hired and she came in and took over.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Is there anything at all, Harold, that we didn't cover that you would like to add to the interview?

Harold Brown:

I don't know. It seems to me like that's all I've been doing is talking. I figure I've been talking too much.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Absolutely not. Absolutely not.

Harold Brown:

Yes. About the only other thing that I had is that on my little sheet I-- [Interview interrupted.]

Harold Brown:

Hello?

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Hi, Harold.

Harold Brown:

Now, I didn't touch anything. I don't know what in the world caused that.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay. The gremlins were out there, I think.

Harold Brown:

Okay. Yes. Did I tell you that I was in Korea?

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

No.

Harold Brown:

Okay. Well, in 1950, after I finished electronics, I was sent over to Japan, and I spent almost three years over there, and I spent a lot of time in Korea. I was taking radar teams over into Korea, putting up radar sites, and then I was flying C-47 supply missions regularly back and forth between Japan and Korea, and these were aircraft parts and radar critical parts I was flying in and out of, but I did no combat.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay.

Harold Brown:

I flew no combat missions or no--or no combat at all except there were a few times when they ran us out of our site because the Koreans were getting awful close and were about to overrun us. We had to evacuate and get out, but--that happened a couple of times, but that was it.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Where in Korea were you stationed?

Harold Brown:

Oh, I was--I was all over the place. I would fly in all the sites, K9, K2, K16. K16 was all the way up into Seoul. K2 was down at Taegu, and K9 was down at Pusan and those were the three big bases. I was flying into all three of them, you know, with critical parts. I put up several radar sites up around the Taegu, which was K2, up in that area. I put in radar sites, but those were the three sites. And then in addition to that, like I said, I was doing flight-test maintenance. I was flying all of the jet fighters. They would bring the jet fighters into the Far Eastern Materiel Command, which is what I was stationed in, and they would bring them in on baby carriers, and then they would take them across Tokyo Bay to Kisarazu, which was our sub-base down there. They--we had, oh, a small contingent of men down there, the sharpest guys that we had, that would take the aircraft, put them in an assembly line, run them through, get them ready for flight-test. I would flight-test them, get them ready, and then we would call in ferry pilots to fly them over to Korea. Occasionally, I would fly one over, you know, if I had the time to do it, but we had all the aircraft, all of the jets, F-80s, F-86s, F-84s, F-94s. We did it for all of the Army aircraft, L-5s, L-16, L-17s, L19, L20s. I flew all of those, flight-tested them. They would come in and pick them up, take them to Korea. So I spent a year doing that, you know, flight-test work over in Kisarazu. So between that and putting up radar systems and flying C-47s in and out of Korea, that's how I spent the whole time. I was there from July of 1950 up through December of--I'm sorry--up to November of 1952.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Was--was there special training involved in learning how to fly the different types of aircraft?

Harold Brown:

Nope. I would just strap it to my back and fly it. It was an airplane. I was flight-test pilot. I was a pilot. Airplane. Pilots fly airplanes. Get in. I would just read the manual, fly it a few times, and then I was an expert in it.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Wow.

Harold Brown:

So I got to where I was an expert in about 20 different aircraft at that time.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Wow. Have--have you flown since you've been out of the service?

Harold Brown:

Oh, yeah.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Okay.

Harold Brown:

Oh, yeah. Matter of fact, not recently, but I had some friends who had aircraft and--and they let me fly them, so I have able to fly a little bit, not too much, but just enough to--I was safe, so I could land it. Matter of fact, I could land it well. You know, yeah, but I haven't flown now, jeez, it has been almost two years since I've flown an airplane now.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Do you miss that?

Harold Brown:

Not really. I used to, but now--no, I don't miss it anymore. Periodically, I do. I'll get around an airplane and I think, boy-- [Interview interrupted.]

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

So you don't really miss it too much. It's just every now and then you think about it?

Harold Brown:

Yeah. Yeah. When I get around airplanes, I, you know, kind of miss it, saying, boy, this would be neat, and I think, man, maybe I ought to fly again, and I get the urge, but if it doesn't happen immediately, then I--then I've forgotten about it.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Right.

Harold Brown:

Yeah.

Rebecca Wiggenhorn:

Well, this--this has been a good interview, Harold, a very interesting interview. And, again, is there anything at all that you would like to add before we--we close?

Harold Brown:

Well, not really. I just got to finish making out some of these forms and mail them wherever it is I'm supposed to mail them.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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