Charles Brown

Hattiesburg, Mississippi
U.S. Army, 173rd Airborne Brigade
Service: March 1967 – April 1968

In 1958, Mississippi held little opportunity for young African-American Charles Brown. Just out of high school, he quickly realized that in the segregated south the Army was his best shot at a better life. So he left his home and family for training at Ft. Bragg. Before long, he found himself stationed overseas performing some of the most dangerous missions of the war. As Platoon Sergeant, Brown was second in command to a platoon in the 173rd Airborne Brigade, leading search and destroy missions through the deadly jungles of Pleiku and Dak To. After taking shrapnel in both legs from a booby trap, Charles went back to the front lines and in November of 1967 fought in the battle of Dak To, which ended in the bitter fight for Hill 875. For his role in the fighting at Dak To and Hill 875, Brown was awarded two Bronze Stars. After the war, he struggled with health problems stemming from his wartime injuries. But within time, he recovered, completed his education and lived to see the dawning of a new South in the United States. In 1994, the mayor of Hattiesburg, MS, named Brown the town’s first Veteran of the Year. In 2000, Brown paid a visit to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) for first time since the war. There he met a Vietnamese man who remembered the war. “Come”, he said. “We celebrate survival.”