First African American top NCO for 412th Theater Engineer Command laid to rest with honor
June 19, 2013
VICKSBURG, Miss. -- 412th Theater Engineer Command Soldiers paid full military honors to retired Command Sgt. Maj. James Albert Brown Jr., who passed away June 4.
Brown was born in Bovina, Miss. On January 2, 1930 and attended elementary school at the Bovina Public School, high school at Southern Christian Institute, and then went to Jackson State College. While at Jackson State, Brown was drafted into U.S. Army during the Korean War.
Brown continued his military service in the Army Reserve to become the first minority command sergeant major at the 412th TEC and served under Maj. Gen. Michael A. Schulz Jr.
Former 412th TEC chief of staff, retired Col. Benny M. Terrell said, "Out of the numerous other sergeant majors in the unit, the general reached out and picked him and that speaks to the caliber of the man that he was."
Brown was a no nonsense guy, strictly by the book, according to Terrell. "He believed in training. He believed in taking care of the Soldier. You didn't have to worry about that," Terrell said.
"He was outstanding, that's all I can say," said Terrell. "He was an outstanding Soldier, and we appreciate his leadership and the path that he dug for all of us."
"He set an example for a lot of us coming behind him," said Terrell. "We had never experienced a black sergeant major. So really he was an inspiration to us all."
Terrell, who became the 412th's first African American chief of staff for the 412th said Brown gave them the tools to do anything, as long as they put the effort.
Brown retired in 1989 and was an active member of local American Legion Post Number 213 until his passing.
The funeral service was held at the Vicksburg City Auditorium June 10 and Brown was later buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery.