Lieutenant General James R. Brown passed away on Oct. 29, 2015, at 2:30 a.m. at Walter Reed Medical Center.
He was born to Marley Robert Brown and Ann Pace Brown in Bozeman, Montana, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Montana State University in 1953. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force in June 1953 and entered active duty in October 1953.
General Brown received his pilot wings in November 1954 at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. After gunnery school at Luke Air Force Base, Arizona, his first operational assignment was in April 1955 with the 20th Fighter-Bomber Wing at Royal Air Force Station Wethersfield, England, as a bomb commander and intelligence officer, flying F-84s and F-100s.
From July 1964 to February 1966 he served as a flight commander and an F-4 instructor pilot at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. He then served a tour of duty in the Republic of Vietnam, with assignments at Nha Trang Air Base in the Direct Air Support Center, Tan Son Nhut Air Base in the Tactical Air Control Center, and Da Nang Air Base as a flight commander and F-4 pilot.
In July 1971 he transferred to the Pentagon; Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, D.C., and was involved in the Undergraduate Pilot Training Study, the CONUS Range Study for the secretary of the Air Force, Red Flag Fighter Lead-In and Aggressor programs, and computerization of Program Flying Training for tactical fighter programs.
He then transferred to Korat Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in March 1975 as a deputy commander for operations, 388th Tactical Fighter Wing, a unit equipped with F-4D's, A-7D's and AC-130 gunships. During this period, the wing flew missions in support of the evacuation of Saigon and the Mayaguez operation. On Dec. 7, 1975, he led the last 388th F-4D aircraft to the United States as operations were closed out in Southeast Asia.
In January 1976 he became vice commander of the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing at Clark Air Base, Philippines. He commanded the wing's detachment during Summer Rain, a joint U.S.-Royal Australian Air Force dissimilar air-to-air combat exercise conducted in Australia during February 1976. General Brown was named commander of the 3rd Tactical Fighter Wing in October 1976.
In August 1978 General Brown assumed command of the 313th Air Division and 18th Tactical Fighter Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan. While he was commander, the wing converted from F-4s to F-15 Eagles. He transferred to Ramstein Air Base, West Germany, in March 1981 and served as deputy chief of staff for operations and intelligence at Headquarters United States Air Forces in Europe. In October 1981 the general became assistant chief of staff for operations, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers in Europe, (S.H.A.P.E.) Mons, Belgium. He became commander of Allied Air Forces Southern Europe and deputy commander in chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe for the Southern Area, Naples, Italy, in October 1984.
General Brown was a command pilot with more than 5,000 flying hours. His military decorations include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Bronze Star Medal, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, and Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster. He retired from the Air Force as the vice commander of Tactical Air Command, with headquarters at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, in 1988.
Other than a deep dedication to his country and his affection for his comrades in arms and his family, he enjoyed the limelight of the gridiron during his recognized high school and college years of playing football, which led to an avid enjoyment of watching week-end games. He also enjoyed woodworking, fishing and gardening. He delighted in his afternoon walks with his dogs and visiting with a vast array of generous neighbors.
He is survived by his wife, Sandra Shores Brown; sons, James Vincent Brown residing in Taiwan and Brian Robert Brown; granddaughters, Pearl Shores Brown and Sandra Shores Brown; sister, Betty Deegan of Edmonton, Canada; and brother, Everett M. Brown of Garibaldi, Oregon.
Services with full honors will be held in Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. www.colonialfuneralhome.com.
Published in Bozeman Daily Chronicle on Nov. 8, 2015