Charles Brown was born in 1946 in Boston, Massachusetts. He was commissioned a 2d Lt through the Air Force ROTC program at Boston University on May 20, 1968, and went on active duty beginning July 8, 1968. He then attended Undergraduate Pilot Training, receiving his pilot wings at Craig AFB, Alabama, in July 1969. After completing B-52 Stratofortress Combat Crew Training, Lt Brown served with the 99th Bomb Wing at Westover AFB, Massachusetts, from January 1970 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on December 19, 1972. After spending 101 days in captivity, Capt Brown was released during Operation Homecoming on March 29, 1973. He left active duty on August 1, 1973, and served in the Rhode Island Air National Guard from 1974 to 1976. Capt Brown then joined the Air Force Reserve at Westover AFB, Massachusetts, serving first as a C-123 Provider pilot and later as a C-130 Hercules pilot. Col Brown served as commander of the 439th Component Repair Squadron at Westover from 1989 to 1993, during which time he was mobilized for Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991. He was maintenance officer of the 439th Equipment Maintenance Squadron at Westover from 1993 to 1996, and then served as maintenance officer for the 439th Aircraft Generation Squadron from 1996 to 1998. Col Brown was vice commander of the 439th Logistics Group at Westover from 1998 to 1999, and then served as commander of the 439th Logistics Group from 1999 until his retirement from the Air Force on March 4, 2004. During this time, he was mobilized in support of the War on Terrorism from October 2001 to September 2002, and from February 2003 to March 2004.
His Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor Citation reads:
Captain Charles A. Brown, Jr. distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as a B-52 Pilot over Southeast Asia on 19 December 1972. On that date, Captain Brown participated in a high-priority bombing mission against a vital military target in a heavily-defended area of North Vietnam. Despite the extreme hazards presented by surface-to-air missiles and hostile interceptors, Captain Brown displayed extraordinary courage and a remarkable ability to perform under severe stress. His willingness to place mission requirements above his personal safety was vital in the successful release of his ordnance on the designated target. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Captain Brown reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.