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William M. Brown

William M. Brown
William M. Brown

Machinist Mate William M. Brown served his country for 2 years in the U.S. Navy and was honorably discharged Aug 21, 1920 as Chief Machinists Mate.

William Brown was born in Greenville, S.C. Sept 7, 1892. As a teenager he moved, with his mother, to Washington DC and there studied steam engineering while working for a hotel belonging to Meyer Hotel Group before he joined the Navy.

William was 25 years old when he joined the Navy on February 2, 1918. After completing Boot Camp he was promoted to a Machinist Mate 2nd Class based on his years of experience with boilers and his engineering knowledge.

On April 10, 1918 he was assigned to the Navel Torpedo Station Newport, R.I. and on July 15, 1918 he completed the Seaman Gunners Class three month course. He was 9th in class of 68 sailors. Upon completion of the Gunnery course he was assigned to Submarine Base New London at Groton, Connecticut. Once at the base he was assigned to the submarine USS N-3 for Four months of duty. The N-class submarines were patrolling coastal waters for German submarines.

On July 23, 1918 the N-3 was on submerged patrol off Long Island. At midnight she was laying to on the surface performing a battery charge when suddenly she sees a number of ships around her. She flashes recognition signals but these are ignored and she is fired upon by a British freighter and is hit by a 6" shell that fails to explode. A destroyer shows up and veered off as she was attempting to ram the N-3 at the last second and stands by to assist.

The after action report states: "Seventeen rivets sheered at the water line, frame no 79 bent and twisted, hole in superstructure, anchor cable cut and anchor lost, forward diving rudder rod bent and knuckle joint sheered, torpedo expulsion tank dented, water standing to the combing in the torpedo compartment, wireless destroyed... We picked up a shell in our forward superstructure and found it to be British."

On September 30, 1918. Brown completed classes at a Sub Base school and was promoted to Machinists Mate 1st Class.

November 16, 1918 he was transferred to USS K-4 for 10 months, the K-4 was assigned to duty out of Key West, Florida patrolling the waters around the coast.

On June 1, 1919 he made Chief Machinists Mate with good scores on his tests.
3.4 of 4.00 scale average
3.5- Steam engines
3.6- Auxiliaries
3.5- Boilers
3.0- Diesels

On September 4, 1919 Brown was transferred to USS Eagle No. 25 (PE-25) for seven months of duty.

April 23, 1920 he was transferred to USS R-1 as a Chief Machinists Mate as the R-1 was on summer operations out of New London with R-2 and R-3 before sailing on September 13, 1920 for Norfolk and an overhaul.

August 21, 1920 he was given an Honorable Discharge at age 27. He was awarded the World War I Victory Medal and the Navy Good Conduct Medal.

According to his son, Ken Brown: "He was only in Navy for 2 years. Looked to be very exciting time for him. He went on to become a licensed steam engineer. First issue of license was May 24th, 1929 and Reissued Oct 22nd, 1937 as Class 1 Steam Engineer. He always worked with large hotels in Washington, D.C. He moved to Raleigh, N.C. in 1936 and worked for the Sir Walter Raleigh Hotel as Chief Engineer. He understood all aspects of boiler and maintenance engineering. Most all of these jobs are no doubt stressful and he died at age 49 on Jul 27, 1941.

William M. Brown is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in the WW I section 18 2113-F along with his wife who joined him in 1994.

Photo in the family collection of Ken Brown

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