Roscoe C. Brown, Jr., served as commander of the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group, the famed "Tuskegee Airmen," and downed the most advanced enemy aircraft of the Second World War. In 1943 and 1944, Brown attended flying training at Tuskegee Army Air Field, Selfridge Field, and Walterboro Air Base, South Carolina. Brown flew his first combat mission in August 1944, escorting B-24 bombers over the Ploesti oil fields in Romania. He completed 68 combat missions flying the P-51 Mustang, escorting B-24 Liberator and B-17 Flying Fortress bombers over Germany, Austria, and the Balkans and conducting low altitude strafing missions over enemy airfields and rail yards. The highlight of his combat career occurred on March 24, 1945, during the 15th Air Forces longest mission.
While escorting B-17s over Berlin, he became the first 15th Air Force fighter pilot to shoot down a Me 262 jet fighter. The 332nd Fighter Group received the Presidential Unit Citation for this mission, the highest honor bestowed upon a combat unit. Brown later downed a German Fw 190 fighter. For his achievements in combat, Brown was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with eight Oak Leaf Clusters. During World War II, the Tuskegee Airmen demonstrated exceptional tenacity and courage while fighting a war on two fronts. They fought against the Axis powers in Europe and against racism at home. Despite the challenges before them, the Tuskegee Airmen flew 200 bomber escort missions against some of the most heavily defended targets in the Third Reich and never lost a single bomber to enemy fighters.
The tremendous accomplishment of the Tuskegee Airmen speak louder than words and provided the compelling evidence that led to the integration of our nations armed forces. The 332nd's successful combat record, which included the downing of 111 enemy aircraft in flight and 150 on the ground, was a principal factor in President Trumans decision in 1948 to integrate the armed services. Brown left military service in 1945 with the rank of captain. He earned his bachelor's degree from Springfield College in Massachusetts and later earned a Ph.D. from New York University. He has pursued a successful career in higher education ever since. For over 25 years he was a full professor at NYU, and was Founding Director of the University's Institute of Afro-American Affairs. Upon retirement at the end of a 16-year tenure as President of Bronx Community College of The City University of New York (CUNY), Brown created the Center for Urban Education Policy at the CUNY Graduate School and University Center and has served as its Director since 1993.
On 25 March 1945, while escorting B-17s enroute to the target area, Roscoe Brown looked and spotted a formation of jets in the distance. He had spotted these aircraft before but never had the chance to engage. Knowing this time would be different, Brown instinctively called for the formation to drop tanks and follow him. As Brown and his flight members jumped into the formation, Brown hammered down on the trigger of his P-51 and got the Me 262 right in the middle. In doing so, Roscoe Brown became the first 15th Air Force fighter pilot to shoot down a Me 262.