Captain Roscoe C. Brown, Jr. commanded the 100th Fighter Squadron of the 332nd Fighter Group and downed the most advanced enemy aircraft of World War II, the Me-262. After his graduation from Springfield College in 1943, Brown enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet and 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 24 March 1945 during the 15th Air Force’s longest mission. While escorting B-17s over Berlin, he became one of the first 15th Air Force fighter pilots to shoot down an 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, among the combat achievements for which he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with eight oak leaf clusters.
The Tuskegee Airmen demonstrated exceptional tenacity and courage while fighting a war on two fronts; against the Axis powers in Europe and racism at home. Despite these obstacles, the Tuskegee Airmen flew over 200 bomber escort missions against some of the most heavily defended targets in the Third Reich. The tremendous accomplishments of Tuskegee Airmen like Brown added to the growing case for integration of the American armed forces. The 332nd’s successful combat record, which included destroying 111 enemy aircraft in flight and 150 on the ground, was a principal factor in President Truman’s 1948 decision to integrate the armed services.
Brown’s hard work and dedication were finally recognized in 2007 when President George W. Bush awarded the Tuskegee Airmen the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest honor Congress can offer. Brown left military service in 1945 and continued his education, earning a Ph.D. from New York University (NYU). He then pursued a successful career in higher education. 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 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. He has served as its director from 1993. He was also a member and past president of the 100 Black Men of America New York Chapter and professor of Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center. Brown died on July 2, 2016 at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, N.Y. at the age of 94.
Captain Brown was first selected as an Eagle by Air Command and Staff College’s Gathering of Eagles in 2004 and subsequently honored in 2008 and 2015 respectively.