Harry Winston Brown (May 19, 1921 – October 7, 1991) was an Army Air Corps second lieutenant assigned to the 47th Pursuit Squadron at Wheeler Field on the island of Oahu during the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941. He was one of the five American pilots to score victories that day. Brown was awarded a Silver Star for his actions, and was the first Texan decorated for valor in the war. By the war’s end, he was a flying ace.
Attack on Pearl Harbor
Brown and another pilot, Johnny Dains, watched as the first wave of Japanese planes flew over. Quickly they decided to head for Haleiwa Field, assuming that the raiders had missed that auxiliary field. They took Brown’s car and picked up Lt. Bob Rogers along the way, dodging a Japanese pilot intent on strafing the convertible. Dains was shot down and killed by friendly anti-aircraft fire later that day.
Brown took off in a Curtiss P-36 fighter dressed in pajama tops, tuxedo trousers, house-shoes, flight helmet and goggles. (But for the goggles, his “uniform” can be seen today at the USAF Museum, at Wright-Patterson Field in Dayton, Ohio.) After he took off, he found that only one .30 caliber machine gun would function.
Brown formed as the lead ship with 2nd Lt. Malcolm “Mike” Moore, from the 46th Pursuit Squadron from Wheeler Field. Together they flew north and engaged two Nakajima B5N2 “Kate” torpedo bombers from the Japanese aircraft carrier Sōryū. Brown hit one of the planes piloted by PO1c Takeshi Atsumi. Brown later wrote that he saw a “big fire” in Atsumi’s plane, but lost track of it and assumed it had escaped. Brown last saw it headed west off Kaena Point. The plane was found where it crashed, in the channel between Kauai and Niihau islands, in 2002.
Brown managed to shoot down another Kate before the raid was over, though he was not officially credited with the second victory until March 1942.