Charles Race Brown, Jr. was born December 16, 1922 to Charles Race Brown and Lauren C. Vandyne in New Martinsville, Wetzel County, West Virginia. Charles's dad was an oil well driller in the area. When Charles was still young, his mother died and his father remarried. From this marriage several half-siblings were produced and Charles was joined by Harley, Lulabell, and Lillie Mae. By the time of Charles's entry into the armed forces, the family had relocated to Upshur County, West Virginia.
Charles enlisted in the United States Army on January 7, 1941 (eleven months to the day before the attack on Pearl Harbor). He received eight weeks of mechanical training at a school in Columbus, Ohio before he was sent in the foreign service. He was shipped overseas to the Pacific in October, 1941 to serve with the 17th Ordinance Company in the Philippines. When the Japanese began their assault on the Philippines, Charles was wounded on December 14, 1941. He was captured as a prisoner of war when Corregidor fell in 1942.
Charles was held as a prisoner of war in the Philippines for two years. While being transported to Japan on the Arisan Maru, Charles lost his life on October 24, 1944 when the unmarked ship was torpedoed by an Allied submarine in the South China Sea. His death was received by the War Department on June 16, 1945.
Charles was awarded the Purple Heart with Oak Cluster and his body was buried at sea. In recognition of his honorable service in World War II, and for his ultimate sacrifice, Charles Race Brown's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, and Charles's was one of the original names inscribed on the West Virginia Veterans Memorial.
Hellships of World War II
West Virginia Veterans Memorial Archives Database
West Virginia Archives and History