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Wilson Brown Edit Profile

Naval officer

Wilson Brown was a was a vice admiral of the United States Navy who served in World War I and World War II.


Brown, Wilson was born in 1882 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. Son of Wilson and Sarah Ann (Cochran) Brown.


Student Penn Charter School, Philadelphia, 1890. Graduated from the United States Naval Academy, 1902.


In WWI he served in London on the staff of Adm William S. Sims and commanded DD Parker. He completed the Naval War College (NWC) in 1921 before being XO BB Colorado; naval aide to Presidents Coolidge and Hoover, CO New London Submarine Base, CO BB California, CofS NWC, Commander, Training Sqdn, Scouting Force (the nucleus of the Atlantic Fleet); and superintendent of the USNA. After three years at Annapolis he became commander, Scouting Force, on 1 Feb 1941 with the rank of vice admiral.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941 he was aboard CA Indianapolis leading a task force that had just completed a simulated bombardment and landing exercise on Johnston Island, 700 miles SW of Oahu. Recalled to Pearl Harbor, the admiral moved his flag aboard CV Lexington as commander of TF 11, one of three formed in the abortive effort to reinforce the defenses of Wake Island. Vice Adm Brown then sailed south to help cover the approaches to New Zealand and Australia. As part of Anzac Force, Wilson was south of Papua with the CVs Lexington and Yorktown when the Japanese landed unopposed at Lae and Sala- maua. To hit their amphibious fleet while it was still vulnerable, Wilson launched 104 planes across the 15,000-foot Owen Stanley Mountains on 10 Mar 42 for a “well planned and neatly executed” strike (Morison, III, 388). Little damage was done to Japanese ships because, although surprised, they were able to maneuver. But the raid was a morale builder, and only one pilot and plane were lost. (Ibid.)

Taking a voluntary reduction in rank to rear admiral, Wilson left “Lady Lex” on 3 Apr 1942 to be naval aide on Roosevelt’s personal staff. He retired 1 Dec 1944 as a vice admiral but remained naval aide in the White House until after FDR’s death to serve Truman, his fourth president. Brown died 2 Jan 1957 at the New Haven USNH, Conn.


  • Brown received the Navy Cross for distinguished service as commanding officer of the USS Parker during World War I. He received the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service as a task force commander of the United States Pacific Fleet in February and March 1942.


Clubs: Army and Navy, Chevy Chase, New York Yacht.


Married Lydia Ballou Chappell, August 4, 1924.

Wilson Brown

Sarah Ann (Cochran) Brown

Lydia Ballou Chappell