In Memoriam: Mark Larry Brown
Memorial Street Signs
BROWN ATHLETIC FIELD
In observance of every Memorial Day, Hampton Veterans of Foreign Wars gave the supreme sacrifice in defense of their country, in WORLD WAR II, KOREA and VIETNAM and streets, bridges, parks & playgrounds in Hampton, were named in their honor.
Mark Larry Brown was born on April 19, 1950 and joined the Armed Forces while in Hampton, NH. He served as a 11B4S in the Army and attained the rank of SP4/E4. He began a tour of duty on April 26, 1968. On September 27, 1969, at the age of 19, Mark Larry Brown perished in the service of our country in Cambodia.
Mother Knows Day's Real Meaning
Commentary by Howard Altschiller, Herald News Editor
Herald Sunday, Sunday, May 24, 1998
[The following article is courtesy of the Herald Sunday and Seacoast Online.]
For Shirley Ladd, every day is Memorial Day. Her first-born son, Mark Brown, enlisted in the Army at the age of 17, instead of returning for his senior year at Winnacunnet High School.
On Sept. 27, 1969, Mark was killed in combat in Cambodia. He was 19. "There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of him," Ladd said. "Children should never die before their parents do."
In Vietnam, Mark was one of the elite.
Mark, a towering figure at 6 feet 5 inches, had immediately distinguished himself in his platoon. In a letter recommending Mark for promotion, his lieutenant wrote: "When things got rough, Brown was the first man on the spot with his M-60. Mark has worked harder than any member of the platoon and has won the respect of the men by hard work and his leadership ability. I'm sure Spc. Brown will be an asset to you and should be considered for a leadership position in the field."
Mark's mother read that letter to me over the phone.
After 29 years, she still carries in her pocketbook the letters he wrote to her from Vietnam.
On Sept. 26, 1969, the day before he was killed, Mark wrote his mother for the last time.
"I can't really tell you what I'm doing except to say I'm running top-secret missions (counter-guerilla operations). They mess with our personnel all the time with booby-traps;, snipers ... so we here at recon do the same to them. Some of the things these people do are so unbelievable that if I told someone they'd call me the biggest liar in the world. But I can't say anything. So what's the difference?
"Please don't worry in the least. I know you're probably worried but we've got lots of tricks up our sleeves."
The next day, during what Mark's commander Maj. Robert H. Bost described as "a clandestine infiltration into Cambodia," Mark was killed by a sniper. "The mission was compromised," Bost said. "They were detected."
The Army told Mark's family he had been killed in combat and awarded him the Bronze Star. But they provided few details. According to the U.S. government at that time, no American soldiers were in Cambodia.
For 29 years, Mark's family knew little about how he was killed. At the same time, for 29 years, Mark's brothers in arms were forced to remain silent.
Then, just last year , the government declassified operations conducted by Special Operations Group. At last allowed to speak the truth, Bost set out to find Mark's family.
He wrote a letter to Hampton Union, which the paper published Feb. 20, 1998, seeking information on Mark Brown.
Local historian and Union columnist John Holman took up the challenge with the help of Joe Kutt, commander of American Legion Post No. 35.
Using local records and a name search on the Internet, they located one of Mark's aunts. This led them to Mark's sister and mother.
After speaking with Bost, Mark's mother wrote him a letter. She told Bost she was "overwhelmed" that "after all these years there really were men who remembered and cared about Mark."
And that's what Memorial Day is all about. It is a day to remember those who lost their lives to war.
Mark is just one of millions of young men and women who have died far from home and family, fighting for the ideals expressed in our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
We need to remember them for the soldiers who survived the nightmare, and for the families who lost a loved one and will never be the same.
One day a year we are asked to elevate our thoughts out of our self-centered lives and think about those who have died in war.
Death wrought on a scale the size of war demands contemplation. While you're sitting in traffic this weekend, think about it.
[Herald news editor Howard Altschiller is a resident of Exeter.]
You can find Mark Larry Brown honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Panel 17W, Row 12.
[For further information, look here:
[Photo by Bill Teschek 2004]