My father's lifetime spanned an exciting era of America's development in settling the mostly rural, undeveloped areas of this huge country.
Master Sgt. John H. Brown, in a photo taken around September 1942, served 35 years active duty in the U.S. Army.
John Howard Brown was born in Tullahoma, Tenn., on Feb. 23, 1894. My father's parents had lived in and farmed that area for years. Then in 1900, they moved to Texas where my father worked on their farm and helped with the livestock.
In 1914, he joined the Texas National Guards and was sent to San Antonio for training and duty assignment. Pancho Villa started cross-border raids on Texas towns and communities in 1916 to finance his war of revolution against the Mexican government. While Villa was never caught by this military expedition, he stopped bothering Texans as they meant business.
The expedition returned to American soil in 1917, just in time for World War I. My father was discharged from the National Guards and he immediately enlisted in the regular U.S. Army.
World War I was nasty trench warfare, with miserable living conditions for the average soldier. It was a horrible war in a deadly place filled with artillery bombardments, machine gun fire and frontal assaults. Dad got up close and personal with at least one German soldier in hand-to-hand combat, receiving a bayonet wound through the palm of his left hand.
Dad fought against the infamous Hindenburg Line and in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign, which ended the war and earned one of my father's highest combat awards. After the war, my father elected to escort the remains of fallen soldiers back to their loved ones in Georgia. At one such occasion, my father met my mother-to-be; they courted and later married, producing eight healthy children Now married, having seen a bit of the world, my father decided to stay in the Army, to be a professional soldier.
At Camp Tyson, Tenn., Dad had more than 20 years in the Army and had previously served in a wide range of non-commissioned officers' positions. On Sept. 6, 1942, my father received his field officer's commission.
He was briefly reassigned as a Military Police officer to the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks (USDB) at Fort Bragg, N.C. Later as a captain, my father was reassigned to Camp Gordon, Ga., to assume duties at the German-Italian POW Detention Center. After the end of World War II, my father filled a succession of positions at Camp Gordon, including personnel officer, headquarters commander and security and intelligence officer.
Meanwhile, demobilization is in effect -- get the troops out of the military. Camp Gordon becomes a Army Separation Unit to process and release the soldiers. Afterward, Camp Gordon is on life support. In 1949, after almost 35 years of active duty, my father decided to retire.
Earlier, in 1946, my parents had bought eight acres with a 15-room home at the intersection of Washington Road and Eisenhower Drive, across the street from the Augusta National Golf Course and adjacent to Fruitland Nurseries. What a lovely place to live, following the hardships of a world war. Later, we moved closer in to west Augusta, but Dad wanted land.
In 1951, he bought about 100 acres off a little dirt road that touched Highway 28 and extended back toward Evans. It was rural and beautiful. Yes, this land lies directly across the road from what is now Jones Creek.
And there I lived until I went into the service in 1955. My mother passed away in 1965, with my father following in 1971.
The advances in technology my father experienced during his lifetime was mind-boggling, from the pioneer era to a man on the moon. My father had a strong belief in education. He said he didn't expect us to make As in every subject but you had better not make a "U" (unsatisfactory) in conduct. He believed in self-reliance, often saying "the best helping hand you can get is located at the end of your arm."
My father was a tough old bird. No frills, no nonsense. Firm but fair. A man of his word. That's how I best remember my father.
(Floyd Brown, USAF (retired) is an Evans resident.)
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