MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - Chicago-born Malcolm Brown joined the Army from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and served in multiple overseas assignments over 20 years. The Vietnam War Veteran retired from service in 1989.
Brown was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism while participating in aerial flight as evidenced by voluntary actions above and beyond the call of duty.
While friendly ground forces were being assaulted from three different directions, Brown boldly reacted by flying his aircraft at tree-top level to make repeated strikes against the hostile forces threatening a beleaguered U.S. compound.
"It was a constant fight. We were shooting guns from the cockpit window -- every place, just to suppress that force. And we won, they lost," Brown remembers.
Disregarding rocket and heavy machine gun fire from a nearby mountain, these men courageously continued to attack the enemy positions. Through their repeated low passes over the enemy, they were able to repress the enemy attacks and save the ground troops from almost certain destruction from a numerically superior force. Their outstanding airmanship and great personal courage may have been recognized by the military, but acceptance from their peers and fellow Americans was another story altogether.
"It was pretty prevalent to me that the civilian world was not very copacetic to what we were doing. And where it really hit home--" Brown paused while he composed himself. "When I came home -- you wear a uniform and you think you're doing something good for this country and then it was advised to us when we landed at San Francisco Airport to take our uniforms off because we would be spit on by the local people. That was not good. So that was the bad thing," Brown choked.
He says the good thing is how much he's seen attitudes toward our service men and women change over the decades. When Malcolm Brown thinks about his induction into the Madison County Military Heritage Commission's Hall of Heroes, he has a similarly emotional and poignantly personal perspective on the distinction.
"It's overwhelming," Brown paused, "and it might bring some closure."
Watch coverage throughout the week on WHNT News 19. You'll meet more local veterans being inducted into the Hall of Heroes.