BURTON J. BROWN, ENS, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Burton Brown '45

Date of birth: January 14, 1923

Date of death: February 26, 1945

Age: 22

Lucky Bag

From the 1945 Lucky Bag:

Loss

From the Conneautville Courier on December 19, 1945:

Presidential Citation For Burton J. Brown

With his 45-Cal. automatic pistol blazing at a Japanese picket boat, Ensign Burton J. Brown, 22, USN, son of Mrs. Florence Hayspel Brown, of R.D. 3, Box 94, Conneautville, Pa., fell mortally wounded on the fire-raked deck of his destroyer, the USS Porterfield.

Sounds strange, doesn't it—a naval officer resorting to the use of small arms in a sea battle between two men-of-war, when his ship bristled with armament?

But it just wasn’t enough for Ensign Brown to direct his heavy machine-gun battery and stand by as his ship’s guns poured hot steel into the enemy marauder which had dared penetrate a U.S. task force the battle-burned night of February 26, 1945, off the Southwest Coast of Japan.

When the Jap picket boat stood in toward his ship and began laying down a heavy barrage at close range, seemingly aided by monstrous seas which tried to smother the Porterfield’s guns, Ensign Brown whipped out his .45 and “maintained an accurate, steady stream of fire against his target until he was mortally struck down by hostile shellfire.”

He gallantly gave his life for his country. And today, it is announced, that the President of the country he died for, “takes pride” in presenting the Navy Cross posthumously to Ensign Burton James Brown, United States Navy, for service as set forth in the following citation:

“For extraordinary heroism while serving as Machine Gun Control Officer on board the USS Porterfield during action against enemy Japanese surface forces off the Southeast Coast of Japan, the night of February 26, 1945. When a Japanese picket boat penetrated his task force and laid down a heavy barrage at close range, Ensign Brown immediately ordered the heavy machine-gun battery to take the enemy under fire. With heavy seas breaking over the guns and the Porterfield rolling violently, making it impossible to keep his weapons trained on the small craft, he remained steadfast at his station on the exposed side of the director platform and, with the enemy raking his vessel with intense gunfire as he continued to close, seized his 45-cal. automatic pistol and maintained an accurate, steady stream of fire against his target until he was mortally struck down by hostile shellfire. By his daring leadership, aggressive determination and cool courage, maintained in the face of grave danger, Ensign Brown contributed materially to the sinking of a hostile vessel and to the defense of the Porterfield. His valiant devotion to duty throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

Navy Cross

From Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Ensign Burton James Brown (NSN: 0-389399), United States Navy, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Machine Gun Control Officer on board the Destroyer U.S.S. PORTERFIELD (DD-682), in action against the enemy during a night surface engagement on 26 February 1945, in the Pacific off the South East Coast of Japan. With the utmost disregard for his own personal safety, Ensign Brown refused to seek shelter from the intense enemy fire directed against the area in which he was controlling the battery, but remained fully exposed at all times. By his outstanding and courageous action he set an example that inspired not only his entire battery but all personnel aboard. His skill and courage were at all times in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Commander In Chief Pacific Fleet: Serial 032079 (March 12, 1945)
Action Date: 26-Feb-45
Service: Navy
Rank: Ensign
Division: U.S.S. Porterfield (DD-682)

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Class of 1945

Burton is one of 59 members of the Class of 1945 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.