Robert Evan Brown, Jr. was born on September 2, 1907 in Dublin, Georgia. He was known by the nickname “Bobbie”, and that was the name he used when he enlisted in the United States Army in 1922, lying about his age.
The Army was Brown’s home, and he was a senior non-commissioned officer in the 2nd Armored Division in the early days of World War II and the North African Campaign. In 1943, he received a battlefield commission as a Second Lieutenant and transferred to the 1st Infantry Division.
As a member of the 1st Infantry Division, he participated in the Sicilian Campaign, then went with the division to England in preparation for the invasion of Europe.
As a First Lieutenant, he landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day with Company C, 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment. His company commander was killed on the beach, and Brown took command of the company. He was later promoted to Captain, and his company commander’s position confirmed.
Four months after D-Day, Brown’s battalion was ordered to assault a very heavily fortified hill on the outskirts of Aachen, Germany known as “Crucifix Hill” for the cross that stood atop it. When Nazi artillery halted the attack and his soldiers were left in an exposed position, Captain Brown personally led the attacks on each enemy strong point in succession until the day was carried.
His Medal of Honor was presented to him by President Truman the following summer.
BROWN, BOBBIE E.
Rank and organization: Captain, U S. Army, Company C, 18th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division. Place and date: Crucifix Hill, Aachen, Germany, 8 October 1944. Entered service at: Atlanta, Ga. G.O. No.: 74, 1 September 1945
Citation: He commanded Company C, 18th Infantry Regiment, on 8 October 1944, when it, with the Ranger Platoon of the 1st Battalion, attacked Crucifix Hill, a key point in the enemy’s defense of Aachen, Germany. As the leading rifle platoon assaulted the first of many pillboxes studding the rising ground, heavy fire from a flanking emplacement raked it. An intense artillery barrage fell on the American troops which had been pinned down in an exposed position. Seeing that the pillboxes must be neutralized to prevent the slaughter of his men, Capt. Brown obtained a pole charge and started forward alone toward the first pillbox, about 100 yards away. Hugging the ground while enemy bullets whipped around him, he crawled and then ran toward the aperture of the fortification, rammed his explosive inside and jumped back as the pillbox and its occupants were blown up. He rejoined the assault platoon, secured another pole charge, and led the way toward the next pillbox under continuous artillery mortar, automatic, and small-arms fire. He again ran forward and placed his charge in the enemy fortification, knocking it out. He then found that fire from a third pillbox was pinning down his company; so he returned to his men, secured another charge, and began to creep and crawl toward the hostile emplacement. With heroic bravery he disregarded opposing fire and worked ahead in the face of bullets streaming from the pillbox. Finally reaching his objective, he stood up and inserted his explosive, silencing the enemy. He was wounded by a mortar shell but refused medical attention and, despite heavy hostile fire, moved swiftly among his troops exhorting and instructing them in subduing powerful opposition. Later, realizing the need for information of enemy activity beyond the hill, Capt. Brown went out alone to reconnoiter. He observed possible routes of enemy approach and several times deliberately drew enemy fire to locate gun emplacements. Twice more, on this self-imposed mission, he was wounded; but he succeeded in securing information which led to the destruction of several enemy guns and enabled his company to throw back 2 powerful counterattacks with heavy losses. Only when Company C’s position was completely secure did he permit treatment of his 3 wounds. By his indomitable courage, fearless leadership, and outstanding skill as a soldier, Capt. Brown contributed in great measure to the taking of Crucifix Hill, a vital link in the American line encircling Aachen.
Brown retired from the Army after thirty years of service to our nation in 1952. He suffered greatly both physically and emotionally from his wounds of war, sadly taking his own life on November 12, 1971. He was laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery.
1st Battalion, 18th Infantry is still a component of the 1st Infantry Division as a combined-arms battalion in the division’s 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team. Their home station is Fort Riley, Kansas.