In Memory of
U.S. Navy Ensign Gann Valley, South Dakota
Buffalo County

October 2, 1929 – June 2, 1952
Lost in Plane Crash in the Korean Sea


Gerald Rodney Brown was born on October 2, 1929, in Mitchell, South Dakota, to Mr. and Mrs. Harold Dean Brown. His family later moved to Gann Valley, South Dakota. Gerald attended high school at the Owatanna Military School in Minnesota.

Gerald Brown enlisted in the service on September 11, 1947. Navy Ensign Brown was assigned to service in San Diego in early 1951 and then on April 14, 1951, he became part of Fighter Squadron 113, where he was a pilot flying a F4U-4 Corsair fighter.

According to the details of a declassified action report, the USS Philippine Sea joined other forces operating off the east coast of Korea on May 14, 1952. Navy Ensign Brown, as part of the air group, was to “provide close air support of ground operations” among other things.

On June 2, 1952, Navy Ensign Gerald Brown was piloting his F4U-4 to a combat mission. During the take-off, he was struck by the “slip stream of another aircraft, fell into the sea and its belly tank exploded.” The body of Ensign Brown was never recovered. A memorial was held at sea on the U.S.S. Philippine Sea.

Ensign Brown was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, the Purple Heart, the Korean Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal for his valor and leadership. His Distinguished Flying Cross was awarded for “heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight as a pilot during operations against the enemy in Korea on May 25 [1952].”

This entry was respectfully submitted by Allyx E. Mattern, 8th Grade, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, May 20, 2004. Information for this entry was provided by South Dakota National Guard Museum, ABMC, and newspaper clippings, including the June 12, 1952, and December 4, 1952, issues of the Brule County News. No family contact made.