“We Were All United”

“We Were All United”

14 Apr 2015

On April 7, Lt Col Jewell Brown, 90 years old, shared her flying experience as a 16 year-old pilot during World War II.  Lt Col Brown recently was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for her participation in WWII and was promoted to lieutenant colonel in the Civil Air Patrol.

Jewell’s mission was to fly single engine airplanes up and down the east coast looking for any signs of U-Boat activities—such as debris in the water, oil slicks and possibly bodies—that she never saw.  As one of the youngest pilots she was not allowed to carry bombs strapped to the bottom of her plane, though that was a common practice for CAP pilots at the time.  She describes landing at the St. James airport after dark flying from Savannah with no radio, no GPS, and no lights on the field.  Luckily the men on the field knew she was returning after dark and parked their cars on both ends of the runway with their lights flashing so she would know where to land on the 1500 foot runway.

Lt Col Jewell Brown poses with memorabilia from her service, including her Congressional Gold Medal. (Photo by 1st Lt Deborah Leighton, NC052/PAA.)

Lt Col Jewell Brown poses with memorabilia from her service, including her Congressional Gold Medal. (Photo by 1st Lt Deborah Leighton, NC052/PAA.)

Cadets were entranced by her story. When asked by an interested cadet how she handled chaos of flying during the War, Lt Col Brown said, “I don’t know how to respond to this.” She thought a moment and continued, “there was no chaos: we were all united in one effort to fight the Germans and win the war.”

She also talked about the importance of courage and confidence. She remarked that during two forced landings (she walked away unharmed from both), she had not been afraid: “I was confident in my abilities as a pilot and I knew what to do.”

Lt Col Brown went on to become an aerobatic pilot, breaking the altitude record for a woman flying a single-engine plane at 26,000 feet.  Later she became a commercial pilot and flight instructor. Everyone was delighted to hear first-hand what it was like flying for CAP in WWII and as a woman in the pioneering age of aviation.  Lt Col Brown is also a member of the Ninety Nines, an organization for women pilots founded by Amelia Earhart. (Sugar Valley squadron members 1st Lt Sandra White and 1st Lt Lee Kosub are also members of the Ninety Nines.)

Next month, the Speaker Series will continue on May 5 as military veteran and HondaJet executive Jon Wells shares his vast aviation experience with the squadron from 7 – 8:30.  Please plan to attend.

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *