Pottawattamie County

Maj. Joe A. Brown





Carries News of Helper to Dad
Dick Caughlan’s Pilot Home on Furlough

The “chance meeting of servicemen overseas” incident to top all other such meetings has now been reported, involving Sgt. Dick Caughlan, a lead radio operator, now in England, and Maj. Joe A. Brown of Gillespie, Ill, a lead bombardier, now in Council Bluffs, and assorted relatives of both of them!

Both being lead men in the 8th air force, they flew in the same crew on many missions, but it was a long time before Maj. Brown discovered they practically come from the same town. Dick’s parents are Dr. and Mrs. G. V. Caughlan, 202 Euclid avenue. Maj. Brown’s wife came to Council Bluffs at the beginning of the war and took at job in the Martin Nebraska plant, living at 551 Franklin. And the major’s sister, Miss Mildred Brown, is surgery supervisor at Jennie Edmundson hospital where Dick’s father often operates.

“Dick is one of the best,” said the major, in praise of his favorite radio man. “He is my idea of a radio operator.”

Get Least Flying.

Speaking of their flying in England, the major mourned that the lead crews to which he and Dick are assigned get the least flying of all crews. “We are only used on priority missions,” he explained. “The regular crews carry out the daily raids, while we wait for a priority mission to come along. Once I didn’t fly for three months, except in practice. Then we flew to Marianburg, in Poland, and returned, the longest 8th air force raid ever made.”

The DFC ribbon he wears, with a gold cluster, standing for 6 additional awards of the medal, was won “just for excellent results in bombing.” Nothing exciting, he indicated. He won it when the rest of the bombardment group, on a mission to bomb Bremen, turned back while the major and his squadron went on alone, found and destroyed the target and returned safely to their English base.

Brown’s crew was first ever to Hamburg, then returned the next day to bomb it again. “We hit our targets all right, but Hitler and his slave labor can build it up almost faster than we can knock it down,” he explained.

Maj. Brown also wears the air medal with six gold clusters, the purple heart, the American theater ribbons for submarine patrol off the Florida coast before going overseas, the American defense ribbon and the European theater ribbon.

The latter, he said, we call the Spam medal, because that is our chief food in England. If you win a cluster, (he wears a gold cluster signifying 6 additional major missions) the boys in England say you have “Spam with lettuce.”

“The food is good,” he said, except for the Spam and the Brussel sprouts. That part is so bad that he have a bit of advice we hand out to all pilots: If you must make a crash landing, pick out a Brussel sprouts field.”

The major and his wife returned Friday morning to Gillespie. He has volunteered for re-assignment to the same station “and I gotta get back by D-day,” Maj. Brown added anxiously.

Source: The Council Bluffs Nonpareil, Council Bluffs, Friday, May 26, 1944, Page 7 (photo included)