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William Brown, 109; Grandson of Slaves Served in World War I

October 16, 2003|From Staff and Wire Reports

William Brown, 109, a grandson of slaves who served in World War I and became Nevada's oldest veteran, died Sunday in Las Vegas.

Bob Simpson, president of the United Veterans of America, said Brown died of natural causes.

Simpson said Brown was to have received a presidential citation Saturday night for his longevity and his service to his country during the war. The citation was to have been presented by Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.), but Brown was too ill to attend.

The oldest of eight brothers, Brown was born Aug. 23, 1894, in Cuero, Texas. He was sent to Europe in 1918 to serve in the U.S. Expeditionary Force but Brown, who was African American, was not allowed to fight alongside white soldiers. He served in an artillery division counting shell holes and keeping roads clear. After the war, Brown moved to California, where he worked for 22 years as short-haul driver for Pacific Trucking Co. He retired in 1962 at the age of 67.

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