In Memoriam: Bruce Wadleigh Brown


In Memory of

1st Lt. Bruce W. Brown USA

Silver Star - Bronze Star - Purple Heart

KIA Vietnam 1968

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.

Bruce W. Brown
Bruce W. Brown

Bruce Wadleigh Brown was born on February 13, 1945 and joined the Armed Forces while in Hampton, NH. He served as a 1204 in the Army. In 3 years of service, he attained the rank of 1LT/02. He began a tour of duty on December 20, 1967. On September 12, 1968, at the age of 23, Bruce Wadleigh Brown perished in the service of our country in South Vietnam, (Pr & Mr [Pr is the abbreviation for Province, Mr is Military Region. From "Where We Were in Vietnam" by Michael Kelley and "Vietnam Order of Battle" by Captain Shelby L. Stanton.] Unknown.)

You can find Bruce W. Brown honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Panel 44W, Row 35.

Hampton Boy Viet Casualty

Bruce Wadleigh Brown

Hampton Union, Thursday, September 19, 1968

A Hampton man, 23 year old Bruce W. Brown, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Brown, 101 Locke Road, became the state's 152nd Vietnam casualty Thursday when he died in a San Antonio, Texas hospital.

Lt. Brown was severely burned August 27 when his tank was hit by an enemy artillery round. He was evacuated from the batt1e zone and taken to the Brooke Army Medical Center, San Antonio which specializes in burn cases.

According to his father, the young lieutenant was on the way to recovery, but a telephone call Thursday from Mrs. Brown brought the tragic news.

Lt. Brown was commissioned an Army second lieutenant on graduation from the Armor Officer Candidate School at Ft. Knox in January, 1967. He left for Vietnam just before Christmas, 1967.

His father said Lt. Brown and one other crew member were in the tank when it was hit near coastal Chu Lai. Both men were "set afire" the father said, but each helped the other to escape the flaming tank. They hid under the armored vehicle until rescued.

A graduate of Winnacunnet High School in 1963, he attended the University of New Hampshire. Brown was formerly employed as a service manager for Western Auto, Hampton. before entering the army in August, 1965. He was married and the father of one child.

Services will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the Trinity Episcopal Church, Hampton. In lieu of flowers, memorial tributes may be sent to Children's Hospital.

Newspaper & date unknown

The Bronze Star medal, the Silver Star and an Army Commendation Medal have been awarded posthumously to Army 1st Lt. Bruce W. Brown, son of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Brown, 101 Locke Road, Hampton.

Lt. Brown. Hampton's First Vietnam casualty, died last September as the result of burns suffered in Vietnam.

Lt. Brown has been awarded the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster for heroic action on August 17, 1968. While serving as a platoon leader near the village of An Phuong, Lt. Brown's platoon was attacked from a ridge line nearby, subjecting the platoon to intensive fire from hostile automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades. The citation reads in part: "Lt. Brown immediately organized his elements ... he unhesitantly dismounted his track, located a medic, and with total disregard for his own safety, raced from vehicle to vehicle loading casualties and providing immediate aid to the injured ... Throughout the vicious assault, Lt. Brown remained undaunted and inspired superior performance on the part of his men."

The Silver Star was awarded for gallantry in action on August 27, 1968. On that date, Lt. Brown's platoon was conducting a reconnaissance mission near the village of Binh Yen. While moving in the area, they suddenly came under intense hostile fire emanating from a series of well fortified bunkers and trenches. Trapped in a devastating cross fire, Lt. Brown began maneuvering his tank from position to position in order to direct well placed suppressive fire into enemy fortifications. Fifty meters from the enemy bunkers, his tank sustained two hits from an enemy recoilless rifle, disabling the vehicle and seriously wounding Lt. Brown. Undaunted, he ignored his painful wounds and remained in command."

The Army Commendation medal was awarded to Lt. Brown for meritorious achievement from June 24 to July 5. 1968. During that time Lt. Brown developed and implemented plans for the dissemination of twenty-eight million leaflets in support of a special operation in North Vietnam.

Lt. Brown was returned to the United States following the August 27 mishap and died at the Brooks Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, San Antonio, Texas a week later.

Besides his parents, Lt. Brown is survived by his widow Mrs. Beverly (Lewis) Brown, a son Bruce W. Brown, Jr., both of Columbia, South Carolina and a brother Kim F. Brown of Hampton.


Bruce Wadleigh Brown

Hampton Union, Thursday, September 19, 1968

We knew him from the time he was a small boy in our small town.
We knew him as the chum of our then small sons.
And watched him grow.
We remember him at Winnacunnet High School and we remember well the only two or or three times we saw him following his graduation night.
Bruce was always friendly and ever polite.
And it was like him to become a leader in the tragically never-ending furious fight for freedom.
Bruce Brown left us the other day. The burns he received in battle were too much.
The heart of the community goes out to Bruce's parents. That heart goes out in sympathy and in sorrow.
But it must also go out in gratitude -- and in loyalty to the sacrifice -- Bruce and thousands of his comrades have made towards the establishment of decency and honor in the world.
It's all impossible to understand sometimes -- it's all seemingly useless. Perhaps the only way we can understand is to relate the awful sacrifices of the moment to like sacrifices in every generation to keep liberty alive. A truth we cannot duck is that the freedoms so precious to us would have long since disappeared were it not for the Bruce Browns of every age.

Bruce Brown Deserves Honor

By Terry Savage

Hampton Union, Tuesday, June 13, 2006

[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]

Editor's note: Last month, the Hampton Board of Selectmen voted to name the town's new rescue pier after Bruce W. Brown, a Vietnam veteran and Hampton resident, who died as a result of battle wounds.

HAMPTON -- Now almost 40 years later, I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when I first learned that he had been badly wounded. And over the years my thoughts have returned to him often.

I met him when I was 13. I didn't like him. He was bold, brash, confident. I was shy, insecure. I tried to get along, agreeing with his pronouncements.

"That's right," I'd say.

"Of course, it's right," he'd bluster. "I wouldn't have said it if it wasn't right!"

He was my senior in every way: older, bigger, quicker. And it didn't look like he was ever going to let me forget it.

It was father's fault that I had to deal with him at all. He'd arranged a job for me with a friend of his, Stan Brown. Stan owned the Western Auto store in the center of Hampton. Stan had a remarkable gift for mentoring. You didn't just work for Stan, you grew with him.

Even I grew. And over time, ever so gradually — through countless bicycle assemblies, mower repairs, washing machine installations, and all the rest that went with the store — mutual respect grew as well. My nemesis became my friend. "The friend," as was once said, "is another self." Not the self you see in the mirror, the other self, the one that helps define and complete you.

Bruce Brown died from his wounds. I feared it when I first heard the news, but still young myself, I could scarcely believe it was possible. He was the very embodiment of life, after all. I still think of him as one of the very brightest people I've known.

Stan had an old safe that was useless because no one knew the combination. Bruce took it apart for fun while on a lunch break one day and gave Stan the combination. And his zest for life was insatiable; if you were around him, you'd be drawn into that continual rush, like it or not.

Riding on the back of his Harley XLCH, I'd plan our conversation for the point just before the sharpest curve, hoping the distraction would slow him down. It didn't.

Bruce Brown was my friend. And I carry him with me to this day. But Bruce was much more than one person's friend. He was a son, a brother, a husband, and a father who never got to know his own son.

He was among the many called to serve his country; and among the few, and still too many, of Hampton's sons to make the ultimate sacrifice. To his fellow soldiers he was a comrade, a leader, and for some, quite literally a savior.

That Bruce would win the Silver Star, that he would put himself forward in the battle, that he would sacrifice everything to his mission and his comrades did not surprise me. He'd always seemed just a little larger than life.

A famous passage, speaking of other such sacrifices long ago, notes that such men "have the whole earth as their memorial: not only in the inscriptions on their graves ... but in people's hearts, their memory abides and grows."

And so Bruce remains in the hearts of his family, friends and comrades in arms.

But in Bruce Brown, Hampton also has a son who was a genuine hero, a potent symbol of life and sacrifice for all those who have faced danger in the service of their country. On behalf of those who knew and admired him, I would like to thank the Board of Selectmen for having honored Bruce and for assuring that his life and is sacrifice are identified with Hampton for all the years to come.

You have helped to ensure a lasting memory of an exceptional man, a man whose life and sacrifice are a fitting symbol of all the lives and all the sacrifices of Hampton's sons and daughters.

[Terry Savage is a resident of Brentwood.]

Bruce W. Brown on the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C.
[Photo by Bill Teschek 2004]