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Obituary Stories

WWII veteran worked on 1st nuclear submarine

Jacob Tierney
| Friday, May 30, 2014, 12:01 a.m.
Wilson H. Brown, 94, of Jeannette, passed away Friday, May 23, 2014, in the William Penn Care Center, Penn Township.
Wilson H. Brown, 94, of Jeannette, passed away Friday, May 23, 2014, in the William Penn Care Center, Penn Township.

When Gen. Douglas MacArthur famously waded ashore the island of Leyte in 1944, Harrison City native Wilson Brown was by his side.

Mr. Brown received the Bronze Star for helping to establish a base during the Battle of Luzon, and was later chosen to be one of MacArthur's bodyguards during the historic moment.

Wilson H. Brown of Jeannette died Friday, May 23, 2014, in Heartland Hospice. He was 94.

His only child, Sandra E. Davis of Jeannette, said he was a resourceful man with a powerful sense of morals who loved being there for anyone who needed him.

“He did everything. You never heard a swear word out of him, you never saw him drink a beer. He was just a good man, and he helped everybody he could,” she said.

He married the love of his life, Theresa Davanti Brown, when she was 18, soon after he had been drafted into the Army. People said the marriage wouldn't last, Davis said, but the couple proved the doubters wrong. They were married 67 years, until her mother passed away in 2009.

“He didn't drink, and he didn't smoke, but he ran around with a wild woman — my mother — for 70 years,” Davis said.

He had little reverence for the famous general he served under.

In a 2001 interview with the Tribune-Review, Mr. Brown revealed that the enlisted men found MacArthur's famous return to the Philippines to be little more than posturing.

“The regular soldiers felt resentment against MacArthur because they did all the work getting rid of the Japanese and then MacArthur comes back to the Philippines in triumph,” he said then. “The enlisted men are the ones that died there. After all, they did the work.”

Mr. Brown was injured by a Japanese bayonet, according to his daughter, but never applied for a Purple Heart because he felt others were more deserving.

He returned home from the war to spend the next 45 years working for Westinghouse Electric in East Pittsburgh.

While there, he helped wire the Nautilus, the first atomic submarine.

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Brown is survived by his brothers, Russell S. Brown of California and William J. Brown of Irwin; a grandson, Christian A. Davis of Media; and two great-grandchildren, Jessica E. Davis and Mitchell W. Davis.

A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday in John V. Graziano Funeral Home, 228 N. Second St., in Jeannette.

Donations in his memory may be made to a favorite charity.

Jacob Tierney is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6646 or jtierney@tribweb.com.

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