WWII submariner, instrumental in getting memorial in Groton, dies at 96

When Jeweldeen "Deen" Brown was out to sea on the submarine tender USS Fulton, he'd send his daughters notes with little drawings inside. Maybe of a palm tree if he was somewhere warm. Or of cowboys, which they loved.

All these years later, Jessica Hoadley and Lina Dickey still have those notes from their father, a self-proclaimed Missouri farm boy who joined the Navy in early 1941.

Brown of Oakdale, one of the first sailors in the Navy to advance to the newly created rank of master chief, died Sunday after a brief illness, with family by his side. He was 96.

Under a gray sky, surrounded once again by his family, he was buried with full military honors on Thursday at the State Veterans Cemetery in Middletown.

Brown was an early member of the national U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II organization, joining shortly after the war ended and serving for a time as the Connecticut state commander. As part of that national group, which disbanded in 2012, he was instrumental in the establishment of the National Submarine Memorial East in Groton.

"The Navy was his life," his daughter Hoadley said after his burial Thursday.

Born in Schell City, Mo., Brown didn't talk much about his Navy service. His obituary describes him as "a man of quiet dignity, robust constitution and fierce patriotism."

Brown spent most of his wartime service assigned to the USS Trout (SS-202). One of his first assignments was assisting the crew in unloading 20 tons of gold and silver, the entire treasure of the government of the Philippines, his obituary says.

Brown went on eight war patrols on the Trout, participating in major events such as the Doolittle Raid, Battle of Midway and Battle of Peleliu, as well as several covert missions to the Philippines, which at the time was occupied by Japan.

The Trout was sunk and all crewmembers were lost in 1944 after it took on fuel at Midway Island and headed for the East China Sea. Brown wasn't on board because he had been left in port to learn a new radar system that was to be installed on the sub. He didn't dwell on it but did talk about how bad he felt that he was on shore when the Trout sank, his daughter Dickey said.

After the war, Brown served on the Fulton. His children remembered going down to State Pier to greet the Fulton as it came in, and going to Christmas parties on the submarine tender.

After Brown retired from the Navy in 1959, he went on to work at Electric Boat for 24 years, advancing to chief of electronic systems engineering. While there, he worked on new submarine designs and was part of a committee that focused on protecting the technology associated with undersea acoustical arrays.

Brown and his wife of 70-plus years, Lois, had three children, Dickey, Hoadley, and a son, Phillip. The couple raised their family in Niantic. On Sundays, Brown would take the kids by boat to Little Rock Island in Niantic Bay.

In his later years, Brown carted his grandchildren and great-grandchildren around his Oakdale property in the back of his tractor. At least once, he ended up in the wagon with the kids while his wife drove the tractor. He also was known for his Easter egg hunts. He hid the eggs so well that the family wouldn't find them until a year later at the next hunt.

Standing next to his burial site, Dickey teared up as she recalled something her father said just a few days before he died. "He said that he was proud of himself because he had been a Missouri farm boy and went so far as to become chief of electronic systems engineering at Electric Boat."

j.bergman@theday.com

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