From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Francis Brown '33

Date of birth: May 22, 1911

Date of death: October 7, 1943

Age: 32

Lucky Bag

From the 1933 Lucky Bag:


1933 Brown 2.jpg

From the 1953 edition of the book "Double Three Roundup," published by the class of 1933:

After graduation Frank served consecutively in the TEXAS and UPSHUR until January 1936, when he reported to the Submarine Base at New London for submarine training. His first sub duty was in the NAUTILUS, then the S-32, and, from April 1938 until May 1941, the SEAL. Upon being detached from the SEAL he reported to the staff of Commander Submarines, Asiatic Fleet. In early 1942 Frank became skipper of the S-39 and remained in that duty until the S-39 was lost on 16 August after striking a submerged reel off flossel Island, Louisade Archipelago. All hands were saved.

Frank assumed command of the S-44 on 19 October, 1942, and for several months was engaged in operations off New Georgia before shifting to the Northern Pacific. On 26 September 1943, the S-44 left Attu to begin a war patrol in the Kuriles. On the night of 7 October radar contact was made on what was thought to be a small merchant ship, but which turned out to be a Jap destroyer. Before the S-44 could submerge the destroyer scored several hits and the S-44 sank. About eight men got off the submarine but only two were picked up by the destroyer. Frank went down with his ship. He was later awarded the Purple Heart Medal and Army Distinguished Unit Badge.

Frank was survived by his widow, the former Juanita Lewis, and a son, Stephen. Juanita has since remarried, and as Mrs. Juanita E. Coverdale, is living at 2112 E. First Street in Long Beach, California.


1933 Brown 1.jpg

Francis was lost when USS S-44 (SS 155) was sunk by a Japanese escort ship on October 7, 1943 near the Kuril islands. He was the commanding officer.

His wife was listed as next of kin.


From Fleet Organization:

  • Engineering Officer USS Seal (SS-183) 1 Jul 1939 - 1 Nov 1940
  • Executive Officer USS Seal (SS-183) 2 Jan 1941 - 1 Apr 1941
  • Staff Submarine Division Fifteen
  • Assistant Maintenance Officer Commander Submarines Asiatic Fleet 10 Dec 1941
  • Captain USS S-39 (SS-144) 31 Mar 1942 - 15 Aug 1942
  • Captain USS S-43 (SS-154) 12 Sep 1942 - 16 Oct 1942
  • Captain USS S-44 (SS-155) 31 Oct 1942 - 7 Oct 1943
  • Lieutenant (j.g.) 1 Jun 1936
  • Lieutenant 1 Jul 1940
  • Lieutenant Commander (T) 1 Oct 1942

Wartime Service

Francis was commanding officer of USS S 39 (SS 144) from March 31, 1942 until August 15, 1942 when that boat went aground while on her 5th war patrol and was lost. The entire crew was saved.

He then briefly (one month) had command of S-43 (SS 154) before taking command of S-44 (SS 155) on October 31, 1942. He took the boat from the Pacific back to the east coast of the US for overhaul, returning to the war zone in September 1943.

Francis is the only skipper to have lost two boats in World War II.

Class of 1933

Francis is one of 38 members of the Class of 1933 on Virtual Memorial Hall.