, 2023-01-13 20:02:12,
PORT CLINTON – Dr. Harold Brown, who flew combat missions in World War II as a member of the famed Tuskegee Airmen, died Thursday at the age of 98.
He was an original member of the Tuskegee Airmen, a select group of African-American fighter pilots who broke down barriers and played a significant role in President Harry S. Truman’s decision to desegregate the nation’s armed forces in 1948.
He told a group of Fremont high school and middle school students in 2019 that he was 16 and a junior in high school in Minneapolis when he saved up $35 for his first flying lessons.
“When my mother found out how I spent my money, she almost went berserk,” Brown joked.
Flew the iconic red-tailed P-51 Mustang
He enlisted at age 17 and was trained in the Tuskegee Institute’s segregated pilot training program. He served with the U.S. Army Air Corps, flying the iconic red-tailed P-51 Mustang with the famed 332nd Fighter Group.
“We were the best-kept secret. Nobody had heard of us,” Brown said of the airmen, who have become more well-known in recent decades.
His first combat mission took place June 6, 1944. He served in the European theater, flying 30 missions over Germany, Austria and southern Europe. His plane was shot down in the winter of 1945 and he was threatened by a group of angry Austrian villagers and taken prisoner.
“I knew I was going to die,” Brown told the News-Messenger in 2015, remembering the mob of 30 to 35 angry, German-speaking villagers that surrounded him. But a local…
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