Skip to Main Content

Wilkes County Veterans History Project: Warren Brown

Veteran Top Box

Staff Sgt. Warren Brown served in the Army's 445th Signal Battalion during World War II, primarily in India.

He was drafted in 1941.

Warren Brown's Story, submitted by Brenda Dobbins

Warren Harding Brown, of Fairplains Road, North Wilkesboro, was born in New York City on November 11, 1921 to James Robert and Catherine Player Brown. He graduated from Gary District High School in McDowell County, West Virginia and had some college training. 

He was working as a plumber's helper for the US Steel Company when he was drafted into the army shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, during the last part of 1940. The World War II had just begun. Warren was inducted in Virginia and sent to Fresco, California. He was assigned to the 445th Signal Corp which was activated in September 1942 and was assigned to the Air Force (formerly Army Air Corps). He scored 135 out of 150 on the Army Aptitude test, he was initially in Company A of the 445th acting first sergeant. He didn't like that because it meant staying in camp under direct control of officers. He wanted to be out in the field like the other soldiers. The highest rank he received was staff sergeant, three stripes up and one under. His uniforms, ribbons and awards were burnt in a house fire in West Virginia while they were in church one Sunday morning.

The 445th installed telephone poles and lines on the West Coast, he remembers climbing the redwood trees in California before the unit was sent overseas to install communication systems in 1943 traveling form Newport News, Viriginia to North Africa, then to India.

His father taught him carpentry, together they built their two-story home in West Virginia. Warren was a security guard in West Virginia for 18 years after he was honorably discharged from service. He married Arlene Grimes, a Wilkes native, on December 30, 1950. They were married for 65 wonderful years and lived in West Virginia and in North Carolina. As a member of the Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church he was a treasurer and Sunday School teacher for 35 years. His hobby is baking cakes.

A celebration was held in 2021 honoring Warren on his 100th birthday. Listed are a few of the many gifts and recognitions he received:

  • A letter and certificate from North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper.
  • A birthday greeting from Governor Jim Justice of West Virginia
  • A certificate from the Office of the Chief Executive of West Virginia
  • Letter from Richard Burr, United States Senator
  • Certificate of Acknowledgement and Congratulations from NC Representative Sarah Stevens
  • Letter from Deanna Ballard, 45th District, North Carolina Senate
  • Proclamation from the Town of North Wilkesboro
  • Letter from United States President Joe Biden