James Theodore Brown, 93 years of age and longtime resident of McAllen, Texas, passed away on January 4, 2024. His adored wife, Isabel Ernestina Garza Brown predeceased him in 2018. He will be deeply and sorrowfully missed. He loved God, his country and his family, and honored them well as a faithful soldier and servant. James was born on June 8, 1930 in Wilmington, Delaware, being the 4th son born to William M. Brown and Gertrudis Gomez Brown. He was raised in Rio Grande City, Texas. He often commented about his boyhood growing up in Starr County during the difficult years of the Great Depression. He remembered fondly how he and his brothers taught each other to swim in the Rio Grande river, caught fish, hunted for rabbit, quail, deer and javelina, shepherded goats, and participated in campouts. As a young man, James served as an altar boy at the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and participated in school activities such as Boy Scouts and the ‘Night Watch’ during World War II. While at Rio Grande City High School he excelled in academics and was in marching band and football.
James’ father William was stationed at Fort Ringgold with the U.S. Cavalry having rode by horseback from the east through Arizona and New Mexico. While at Fort Ringgold, William met and married the love of his life, Gertrudis (Tulitas) Gomez. Together they raised a family of 11 children, 8 sons and 3 daughters. Being that James was part of a military family, when his older 3 brothers enlisted in military service during World War II, he attempted to also enlist at the age of 15 and left with $5.00 in his pocket hitching a ride to Brownsville from Rio Grande City to register for entry into the U.S. Navy. He was turned down by the enlistment personnel, taken to lunch and placed on a bus back home. Undaunted, he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1947 at the age of 17 after his junior year of high school. This time he was accepted and sent to basic training after which he was immediately sent to Japan for active duty in the post-World War II reconstruction period guarding the northernmost area close to Soporo, Japan against Russian aggression. In 1950 as part of the courageous 34th U.S. Infantry Regiment, 24th Division, he was in the initial and ill-fated attacks against the North Korean People’s Army of July 1950. He was in the first U.S. landing from which they left Japan in a small fishing boat crossing the Sea of Japan to land on the shores of the country of South Korea at Pusan. The Division in Korea, numbered 1800 men at the beginning of July 1950 and by the end of that same month, it would number only 184. James was one of those lucky 184. Being that the battle force was so greatly reduced, the 34th Regiment was joined together with the 19th Regiment and the hand-to-hand combat fighting continued. James fought in 5 major battles, one of which was Chosin, with his unit close to the Halu River, twice defending Korea against the invading Chinese in the bitter Korean snow and ice of November and December 1950.
He served two consecutive tours of combat duty on the ground in Korea. After almost never speaking about his military service, James began to discuss some of the events of his time in Korea towards the end of his life. He often commented that being in the Army was no hardship and he fully intended to have a lifelong career in the Army. James achieved the rank of Sergeant First Class on the battlefield and commanded a unit of 12 American infantrymen and 3 South Koreans. Upon enlistment in his 3rd tour, he was accepted into the elite ranks of the 82nd Airborne Division. After receiving his wings and while training to be a Jump Instructor at Fort Benning, Georgia, he suffered a physically devastating accident in 1953 and was hospitalized for close to one year having to re-learn all motor and language skills.
Regrettably, his Honorable Medical Discharge was marked by the death of his oldest brother, Oscar M. Brown, a U.S. Marine, killed in action at Boulder City, Korea, three days before the Armistice was signed. Oscar received the Silver Star for his valor and efforts to save fellow marines and his death heralded a somber recuperation period for James.
Upon James’ return to Rio Grande City, he was unable to complete his high school education. Fifty years later, he finally received his High School Diploma as the Honor Graduate of Rio Grande City High School on May 31, 2003, an event which brought him immeasurable pride. As a graduate of Texas A&M, James Connally Technical School in Waco in 1967, he worked many years in the air conditioning trade in the Rio Grande Valley including the then new Cooling Plant at Pan American College.
James had a love of history, and a pride of purpose in this life. He was a member of Colonel Plummer’s 82nd Airborne Rio Grande Valley group and was in the initial host of veterans to offer assistance and support to the Veteran’s War Memorial of Texas in McAllen. In addition, he was a lifelong member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Sacred Heart Catholic Church. James deeply loved his four daughters, eight grandchildren and four great grandchildren. He was a fierce proponent of education and an advocate and defender of the principles of law.
For his service in the U.S. Army, James was awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Korean War Service Medal, 5 Bronze Battle Stars, 2 Distinguished Unit Citations, with one for Chosin, the Parachutist Badge, “Wings”, the Medal of the Army of Occupation of Japan, the United Nations Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, Two Army Marksmanship Qualification Badges for Sharpshooter and Machine Gun, a Certificate of Recognition for Cold War Participation from the U.S. Dept. of Defense and in the 1990’s, a Letter of Appreciation from the President of the Republic of Korea as one of the ‘First In’ American military.
RIO GRANDE CITY - JAMES THEODORE BROWN, 93, PASSED AWAY ON THURSDAY, JANUARY 04, 2024, AT ALFREDO GONZALEZ TEXAS STATE VETERANS HOME IN MCALLEN, TX. SANCHEZ FUNERAL HOME OF RIO GRANDE CITY WILL BE IN CHARGE OF HIS FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS.
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
1:00 - 8:00 pm (Central time)
Wednesday, January 10, 2024
6:00 - 6:45 pm (Central time)
Thursday, January 11, 2024
8:00 - 10:30 am (Central time)