Staff Sergeant William Lee Owen Brown was killed in action (KIA) on February 10, 1968. Enemy fire struck the C-130 Brown was a passenger on as they approached the Khe Sanh airfield during the Vietnam War. The damaged plane was able to land but did not stop safely, running off the end of the runway, exploding in flames. Five of the ten passengers escaped the burning wreckage and received treatment at the US Army hospital.
Brown was born January 20, 1934 in DeLand, FL where he attended public schools. Brown joined the Marine Corps in June 1953. He attended military photography schools at Fort Monmouth, NJ and Tokyo, Japan. His many USMC roles included that of recruiter, a drill instructor at Parris Island, NC, and at the time of his death, he served as a non-commissioned officer in charge of the First Marine Air Wing Photo Lab.
During his career Sergeant Brown was awarded multiple decorations. Brown received the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Ribbon, was a six-time recipient of Expert Rifleman awards, the Navy Commendation Medal with Combat (V), Air Medal and Combat Aircrew Insignia with three stars.
At the time of Brown’s death, his wife Pauline (Kerr), son Hugh William, and daughter Karen Denise, lived in Albany, New York. His mother Emma Lee Brown lived in DeLand. Robert Owen Brown, William’s father, predeceased him.
Sergeant William Lee Owen Brown, who was KIA during the Vietnam War, is buried in Oakdale Cemetery, in DeLand, FL.
The Vietnam War is a controversial and complex topic. I recommend a subscription to the bi-monthly Vietnam magazine.
DeLand Sun News
For readers interested in military burials located in Oakdale Cemetery, I invite you to read my blog post about Sergeant Adam Quinn, who perished while serving in Afghanistan.
In a remote mountain stronghold in 1968, six thousand US Marines awoke one January morning to find themselves surrounded by 20,000 enemy troops. Their only road to the coast was cut, and bad weather and enemy fire threatened their fragile air lifeline. The siege of Khe Sanh-the Vietnam War’s epic confrontation-was under way.
To learn more about Khe Sanh, I recommend readers to Gregg Jones, highly regarded work, Last Stand at Khe Sanh: The U.S. Marines’ Finest Hour in Vietnam. With positive reviews from Leatherneck Magazine, Vietnam Magazine, Michigan War Studies Review, and more, this book will take you into the heat of battle and put you on the frontlines with the men who fought there.
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