William C. Brown
Biography: William Charles Brown was born on April 26, 1919, in Syracuse, New York. He was the son of William Louis Brown and Ava Ruth Cunningham. On March 4, 1942 or 43, William married Viola Yako, also from Syracuse. She was the daughter of Nicholas Yako and Martha Dillabough. The couple made their home in Syracuse. Prior to his military service, William was a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC).
Service Time: William entered the Army on December 30, 1940. He was a member of a New York National Guard unit, Company C, 101st Antitank Battalion. This unit was federalized on January 6, 1941, and redesignated as the 801st Tank Destroyer Battalion on December 15th of that same year. They were one of the original TD battalions formed. The unit trained at Camp Sutton, North Carolina, and participated in the Carolina Maneuvers in the fall of 1942. They then moved to Camp Hood, Texas, for advanced unit training. Following this, they were assigned to the Tank Destroyer Training Brigade as school troops for almost a year. The unit assisted in the development of the rocket launcher, the 3-inch gun, both towed and self-propelled, the M-10 and M-18 destroyers and the M-8 armored car.
On February 28, 1944, they sailed from the Boston Port of Embarkation aboard the H.M.S. Britannic, landing in Liverpool, England on March 11th. The 801st landed at Utah Beach on June 13th with towed 3-inch anti-tank guns. They fought at Mortain, France, later entering Belgium on September 8th and Germany on September 12th. Supporting operations in the Hurtgen Forest in late November and were in the Ardennes when the German offensive struck on December 16th. Moving to Aachen, Germany in February 1945, they crossed the Roer River on February 25th, crossed the Rhine River on March 29th, and eventually supported the drive to the Ruhr River before turning east to the Elbe River. After being moved south, they supported operations in the Harz Mountains in late April.
They converted to M-18 destroyers in late April. Crossing the Danube River followed soon after the conversion and they reached the Inn River outside Braunau am Inn, Austria, by VE day. At some point, William had become a TD Commander and left the service at the rank of Sergeant, receiving credit for the unit’s five campaigns: Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. He also served with the 47th Tank Battalion, 14th Armored Division, which most likely happened after combat had ended. He earned the following medals; American Defense Service, EAME, WWII Victory and Good Conduct.
Post-service: William returned home to Viola in September, 1945, and eventually found work with the Niagara-Mohawk Power Company, retiring in 1976 after 25 years. They had six children, William Jr., Marilyn, Thomas, Sharon, Vicki and Michael. He was a member of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Syracuse. William passed away on June 9, 2002, and was buried in the St. Agnes Cemetery, Syracuse, NY. We would like to thank William’s son, Michael, for providing the information and photos used in this tribute.