Although he was a World War II bombing hero and an air commander in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, General George S. Brown didn’t enter the limelight until after he became Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1973. As chairman, Brown spoke candidly, often expressing opinions that were highly controversial. In 1977 he accused Congress of being meddlesome and irresponsible regarding defense and foreign aid. Despite a barrage of calls for Brown’s dismissal, President Ford stood behind him, saying that the General was an outstanding soldier.
- Member of the 329th Bomb Squadron and flew 25 missions from England before transferring to the Italian Front.
- Awarded the Distinguished Service Cross in 1943 for assuming command of the Ploesti, Romania oil fields low altitude raid after the group commander and ten others planes were shot down.
- Appointed assistant to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in May 1966.
- In August 1968 took command of the Seventh Air Force in Vietnam.
- Became commander of the Air Force Systems Command Headquarters at Andrews Air Force Base in September 1970.
- In August 1973 became Air Force Chief of Staff.
- Promoted to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in July 1974.
General Brown was born in Montclair, New Jersey, on August 17th, 1918. He graduated from high school in Leavenworth, Kansas, and after attending the University of Missouri for a year, he received a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York, in 1937. He graduated from the Academy in 1941 and entered flying training at Pine Bluff, Arkansas. He received his pilot wings at Kelly Field, Texas, in 1942.
His first assignment after flying training was at Barksdale Field, Louisiana, where, as a member of the initial cadre of the 93d Bombardment Group, he flew B-24 Liberators. Moving with the organization to Ft. Myers, Florida, he flew antisubmarine patrol.
In August 1942 he flew with the 93rd Bombardment Group to England, the first B-24 group to join the Eighth Air Force. Until April 1944, he served in various positions with the group, including Commander of the 329th Bombardment Squadron, group operations and then Executive Officer. As Executive Officer he took part in the famous low-level bombing raid against oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania, on August 1st, 1943. The 93rd Group was the second of five B-24 groups which raided Ploesti from a temporary base at Benghazi, Libya. The 93d Group, led by its commander, flew directly into heavy defenses to hit three of the six target refineries. The lead plane and 10 others were shot down or crashed on the target. General Brown, then a major, took over the lead of the battered 93rd and led it back to Benghazi. He received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions on that mission.
General Brown was appointed Assistant Operations Officer, 2nd Air Division, in May 1944. He assumed similar duties in May 1945 with Headquarters Air Training Command at Fort Worth, Texas. In 1946 he joined Headquarters Air Defense Command at Mitchell Field, New York, as Assistant to Air Chief of Staff, Operations, and later become Assistant Deputy for Operations.
During the Korean War in July 1950, he become Commander of the 62d Troop Carrier Group at McChord Air Force Base, Washington, which operated between the West Coast and Japan. During 1951 and the early part of 1952, he commanded the 56th Fighter Wing at Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan, and in May 1952 joined Fifth Air Force Headquarters at Seoul, Korea, as Director for Operations.
In July 1953 General Brown assumed command of the 3525th Pilot Training Wing at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. He entered the National War College in 1956, and after graduation in 1957 served as Executive to the Chief of Staff, U.S. Air Force. In June 1959 he was selected to be Military Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of Defense, and later was Military Assistant to the Secretary of Defense.
General Brown become Commander of Eastern Transport Air Force, McGuire Air Force Base, New Jersey, in August 1963. In September, 1964 he was selected to organize Joint Task Force II, a Joint Chiefs of Staff unit formed at Sandia Base, New Mexico, to test weapon systems of all the military services.
He served as the Assistant to the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, in Washington, D.C., from August 1966 to August 1968. He then assumed command of the Seventh Air Force and also become Deputy Commander for Air Operations, U.S. Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV). As Seventh Air Force Commander, he was responsible for all Air Force combat air strike, air support, and air defense operations in Southeast Asia. In his MACV position, he advised on all matters pertaining to tactical air support and coordinated the Republic of Vietnam and United States air operations in the MACV area of responsibility.
In September 1970 General Brown assumed duty as Commander, Air Force Systems Command, with headquarters at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.
General Brown was appointed by the President to be Chief of Staff of the United States Air Force, effective August 1st, 1973, and to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of Defense, effective July 1st, 1974.
Brown was a command pilot. His military decorations and awards include the Distinguished Service Cross, Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Distinguished Service Medal (Air Force) with three oak leaf clusters, Silver Star, Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with one oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, and Army Commendation Medal.
General Brown died December 5th, 1978 and was buried at Arlington Cemetery with full honors.
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