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Biography of Dr. Thomas Martin Brown

Thomas Martin Brown graduated Burris High School in Muncie, Indiana in 1934. Muncie is the county seat of Delaware County in eastern Indiana on the White River. 

He attended Ball State Teachers College in Muncie intermittently between 1934 and 1938 before transferring to Indiana University in Bloomington. The “Hoosiers” were in the Big Ten Conference. The University in Bloomington was founded in 1820, and the year Tom Brown enrolled, the total student enrollment was over 5,000. He graduated with an A.B. in chemistry in 1939. 

Tom and brother Lee enrolled in Indiana University School of Medicine graduating in an accelerated senior class in late December of 1942. Tom applied for a commission in the United States Naval Reserve shortly after December 7, 1941, and within a few months was accepted into the program. 

Following graduation Dr. Thomas M. Brown served his internship in 1943 at William J. Seymour Hospital in Wayne County, Michigan. 

On January 10, 1944 Dr. Brown became Lieutenant (j.g.) Brown. He became active Navy, and was assigned to the United States Naval Hospital at Camp Farragut, Idaho. The camp was the second largest naval training center in the U.S. It was located near Athol at the foot of Lake Pend Oreille. 

On February 1 Lt. Brown was assigned to the Field Medical Training School, Fleet Marine Forces at Camp Elliott, San Diego, California. 

On Wednesday, March 1, he was assigned to the United States Marine Corps’ 2nd Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division at Camp Joseph H. Pendleton in Oceanside, California as a battalion surgeon. His commanding officer was Major John William “Tony” Antonelli. Major Antonelli was a veteran of Lieutenant Colonel Merritt Austin Edson’s 1st Marine Raider Battalion, and a graduate of the United States Naval Academy choosing to serve in the Marine Corps rather than the Navy. 

A short while after being assimilated into the Marine Corps, Lt. (j.g.) Thomas Martin Brown and Miss Mary Adeline Marsalis were united in marriage, and in a few short months Lt. Brown was aboard a Liberty ship at the docks in San Diego. 

On Saturday, August 12, 1944, at dusk, he sailed from San Diego Harbor with 2nd Battalion westward into the Pacific toward the Territory of Hawaii. The battalion reached Hilo Harbor on the east coast of the big island of Hawaii on Friday, August 18. They disembarked on Saturday at Hilo docks making their way 65-miles overland to Camp Tarawa, which would be Doc Brown’s home for the next four and one-half months, and he would remain in the Pacific Area for seventeen long months. 

Camp Tarawa was spread over 50,000 acres of the 225,000-acre Parker Ranch, and around the town of Kamuela. It sat 2,600-feet above sea level between the mile-high Kohala Mountains and 13,796-foot Mauna Kea northwest of Hilo, and approximately 12-miles from Maume Beach, the nearest coastline. 

On Wednesday, December 27, the 27th Marines began loading men and equipment on ships in Transport Division 47 at Hilo docks. On Thursday Doc Brown was embarked aboard the USS Highlands. The 26th Marines followed on January 1, 1945 in Transport Division 46, and the 5th Division’s command post was closed at Camp Tarawa, and opened aboard the USS Cecil on January 4. The 28th Marines was the last to embark on January 6 in Transport Division 48. On Wednesday, January 10, Transport Divisions 46, 47 and 48 were in anchorage at Pearl Harbor. 

On Saturday, January 27, the 5th Division aboard ships in Transport Divisions 46, 47 and 48 within Transport Squadron 16 steamed from Pearl Harbor in a westward direction toward Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands, west of the International Date Line. 

On Monday, February 5, the convoy reached Eniwetok Atoll for refueling and staff conferences. Refueling of the ships in the convoy took place in the vast lagoon of the atoll, and on Wednesday the convoy moved from the lagoon through the narrow channel steaming westward toward Saipan in the Mariana Islands.

On Sunday, February 11, the convoy reached Saipan. In the unsheltered harbor in a rough sea Doc Brown transferred to an LCI.

On February 15 the ships carrying the 4th and 5th Division troops and amphtrac tanks (LVTs), representing the first five waves of assault troops with battalion aid station personnel, steamed northward toward Iwo Jima. They were followed on the 16th by the main force of assault vessels with remaining 4th and 5th Division troops, and 3rd Division troops who joined the convoy from their camp on Guam. On the 17th the remaining transports with 3rd Division troops and attached units steamed northward.

At 0640 on D-day, February 19, 1945, one minute to sunrise, Vice Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner unleashed the heaviest pre-assault bombardment of World War II. It was a continuation of aerial bombs, and naval shells from guns as large as 16-inch. Many Japanese surface installations and troops were destroyed, but the terrible killing power of the bombs and guns never reaches the bowels of the island where General Kuribayashi’s subterranean garrison waited in dimly lit rooms for the bombardment to lift. 

At 0730 Doc Brown was aboard his designated LVT as the, “ramp in the bow of the ship was unsecured, opened out into the bright sunlight, and lowered by its winches and chains to the surface of the glittering sea.” At precisely 0735 the first LVTs accelerated lurching forward down the ramp and into the sea. Within 10-minutes all of the amphtracs were in the sea, “gathered into organized groups of fixed numbers and churned like clock wheels in circular formations. Each group was a wave or a part of a wave appointed to land on a specific part of the beach at a specific moment. Each group churned in its own fixed circle until it was notified to move into its respective fixed line paralleling the beach a mile away.”   

Doc Brown was in the third wave of assault troops exactly two minutes behind the second wave. His LVT ground up onto Red Beach One. Someone lowered the ramp from which he exited onto the beach. The loose dark volcanic soil, more like an ash, was like walking in a bin of wheat. 

Brass hats optimistically predicted the assault on Sulphur Island would take several days at the most, but it was not until March 26 at 0800 that Major General Harry Schmidt, Commander of the Fifth Amphibious Corps, declared the operation completed thus ending the Marine Corps’ combat presence in the Battle of Iwo Jima. The malevolent little island was turned over to Major General James Eugene Chaney, U.S. Army Air Force, who was then commander of all U.S. forces on Iwo Jima. The U.S. Army’s 147th Infantry Regiment had taken over garrison duty, and with the help and training of the Marine Corps organized a systematic mop-up of scattered remnants of General Kuribayashi’s troops. 

Doc Brown, with the exception of little more than a 12-hour period, spent the 36-days, Marines were engaged in battle, as a surgeon in the 2nd Battalion Aid Station near Major Tony Antonelli’s Battalion Command Post, which was usually no more than a few hundred yards behind the front lines, which was a misnomer. The entire foul smelling little island, from D-day through most of the battle, was the front lines. 

Late Wednesday afternoon on March 14, shrapnel from the explosion of a Japanese mortar shell wounded Doc Brown. A piece of shrapnel entered at the midpoint of his lower back lodging near one of his lower lumbar vertebrae causing a very painful wound. A second piece of shrapnel lodged in the calf muscle of his left leg. He was evacuated to the 5th Division Field Hospital near the east beach, but at dawn the next morning returned to his post without having received medical attention. The pain was sharp and persisted whenever he bent over or rotated his trunk to either side. After eight-days Doc walked over to the 3rd Battalion Aid Station, and Dr. Hely removed the shrapnel from his lower back. 

On Monday afternoon, March 26, Doc Brown, and the ragged remnants of the 27th Marines marched up the gangplank of the USS Storm King. They disembarked at Hilo docks on April 12, and remained at Camp Tarawa on the big island of Hawaii until August 28. 

Midway through the Battle of Iwo Jima Doc’s wife Adeline had given birth to their first-born. 

Dr. Thomas M. Brown was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service during the Battle of Iwo Jima, and the Purple Heart Medal for wounding on March 14. 

Doc served as battalion surgeon with the 2nd Battalion, 27th Marines, 5th Marine Division in the occupation of Japan. He was first stationed at Sasebo, and a few days later at Sago, Kyushu. The division returned to Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, California, and he received a 30-day leave starting on December 27, 1945, which was followed by the decommissioning of the 5th Marine Division. 

On Saturday, January 26, 1946, Doc Brown was assigned to the Glenview Naval Air Station in Glenview, Illinois. He served as ward medical officer until May 26, at which time he was given terminal leave until July 14, 1946. He served in the reserves until honorably discharged from the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Navy Reserve in 1954. 

Dr. Brown was a resident in pathology at Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Indiana from 1946 into 1947. He was a resident in internal medicine from 1947 into 1949 at Detroit Receiving Hospital in Detroit, Michigan, several blocks northwest of the Detroit River separating Detroit and Windsor, Ontario. 

He was in private practice in the specialty of Internal Medicine in Muncie from 1949 into 1992, and he was an active member of the Clinical Staff of Ball Memorial Hospital during the same period. He was Medical Director at Victory II Methadone Maintenance Clinic in South Bend, Indiana from January 19, 1996 to July 20, 2001. 

Dr. Brown was a member of the Indiana State Medical Association, American Medical Association, American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine and past president of the Indiana affiliate of the American Heart Association. 

Dr. Thomas Martin Brown was retired and lived with his wife, Joyce E. Beerer Brown, in Edwardsburg, Michigan. He authored Battle Wounds of Iwo Jima dedicated to the memory of Mary Adeline Marsalis Brown.



Thomas Martin Brown, Sr.

January 2, 1917 – September 11, 2007 

Thomas M. Brown, MD of Edwardsburg , Michigan , died at the age of 90.  Born to James A. Brown and Estella Lucas Brown in Muncie , Indiana , he received his high school diploma from Burris High School , and degrees in chemistry and medicine from Indiana University .  

Dr. Brown was activated in the U.S. Navy as a battalion surgeon in 1944, and served with the 5th Division Marine Corps at the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, receiving the Purple Heart and Bronze Star medals for meritorious service.  He provided medical aid to residents of Nagasaki , Japan after the termination of WWII.  Following a residency at Detroit Receiving Hospital , he practiced internal medicine privately for 43 years in Muncie , Indiana , where he was a member of the clinical staff at Ball Memorial Hospital .  He enjoyed gardening, writing books about his military experiences, reuniting with Marine acquaintances, woodworking, and enjoying visits from his children and grandchildren.    

Dr. Brown was a member of the American Society of Internal Medicine, the Indiana State Medical Society, and served as president of the Indiana Affiliate of the American Heart Association.  He also was active in the work of Gideons International.  

Surviving are his wife, Joyce E. Beerer Brown of Edwardsburg, MI; five sons and three daughters: Thomas M. Brown, Jr. of Dallas, TX; David M. Brown of Muncie, IN; Jeffrey R. Brown of Baiersdorf, Germany; Steven C. Brown of Yorktown, IN; Daniel V. Brown of Chappaqua, NY; Celeste E. Chambers of Edwardsburg, MI; Angela J. Morris of Watertown, WI; and Priscilla L. Jamora of Lafayette, IN; 25 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.  

He was preceded in death by his first wife Adeline Marsalis Brown; and his four siblings, Mary Eleanor Birkemeier, Laurence L. Brown, Leland G. Brown, and James J. Brown.  

Visitation will begin Saturday, September 15 at noon at First Baptist Church of Mishawaka, IN with a memorial service starting at 1:30 pm officiated by Rev. David Miller.  Additional visitation will be at Grace Baptist Church , Muncie , IN on Sunday, September 16 from 2-5 p.m, and Monday, September 17 at 10 am.  Funeral services will be Monday, September 17 at 11 am at Grace Baptist Church , with Reverends Collins Glenn and Jeffrey R. Brown officiating.  Interment will follow at Elm Ridge Cemetery in Muncie .  Memorial contributions may be directed to Gideons International and the American Heart Association.


"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."



Dr. Brown's Obituary courtesy of son, Daniel V. Brown, Chappaqua, NY.

Dr. Thomas M. Brown   Dr. Brown's Book.

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