Descendants of Air Force Sgt. Harold B. Brown and Navy EM 3/C (Electrician’s Mate 3rd Class) Herbert M. Brown, Jr.—West Natick residents, brothers, and soldiers killed in action during World War II, and for whom Brown Elementary School was named—visited the the school last week to share some family history and to see the building for the first time for themselves.
Harold and Herbert were part of a large and patriotic clan of five siblings, all of whom attended Natick public schools. Harold and Herbert did not make it home after the war, however two brothers who served their country did. A patriotic force in her own right, the only sister in the family served stateside in a non-combat capacity in the WAVES program (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).
Family members acknowledge they are short on details about their uncles’ wartime activities. “We don’t have a lot of exact information because our father [one of Harold and Herbert’s surviving brothers] would never talk about it all that much. We all knew growing up that my dad had lost the two younger brothers. I asked Nana about it one time. She ended up crying,” Steven said.
No surprise, given that this double gold star mother (an American mother who lost a child in service of the United States Armed Forces) in 1942 lost two sons in a 30-day period.
What the four visitors to the school do know about their uncles’ military deaths is this. Both were killed in action. Herbert, an Air Force pilot, was shot down over the Pacific Ocean. Harold was onboard a Navy destroyer, the USS Gwinn, when it was torpedoed. Although the ship was hit, it did not sink. But many, including Harold, lost their lives due to the raid.
After her sons died, “Our grandmother set up the naming of Brown for the boys,” Meredith said. The school was built in 1950.
Harold and Herbert are buried in Dell Cemetery, located on Pond St.
After the descendants told their story, Brown School Principal Aidan McCann brought them on a tour of the school.