USA: Retired WWII Master Chief Deen Brown Reflects on Battle of Midway

Training & Education


A retired U.S. Navy master chief petty officer who served in the Battle of Midway shared his experience and reflected on the battle’s place in history during a Battle of Midway commemoration ceremony held at Naval Submarine Base New London, June 3.

Master Chief Deen Brown was a radioman while serving aboard the Tambor-class submarine USS Trout (SS-202) during the Battle of Midway. He related not only how the submarine force played a key role in the watershed battle, but also the monumental contributions the force had during World War II.

“The Battle of Midway was indeed the turning point for the war,” said Brown. “The Japanese were the aggressors before the battle, but afterward the tide had turned. Their prime concern [after the battle] was to defend their outposts, which ultimately they couldn’t defend in the end.”

Brown described his experience aboard Trout and the overall submarine mission during the battle. While the Japanese force had deployed 16 submarines, the U.S. had a little more on station to help defend the Island of Midway.

“We deployed 19 submarines, but 11 were positioned in the semi-circle southwest of Midway,” said Brown while emphasizing their positioning was the key in protecting the island from Japanese invasion. “We had to hold that line, the semi-circle around Midway to ensure the loaded troop transport couldn’t gain access.”

Brown was introduced during the ceremony by Rear Adm. Michael McLaughlin, commander, Submarine Group 2; and Capt. Marc Denno, the 49th commanding officer of Naval Submarine Base New London, who provided the opening remarks.

“By the spring of 1942, the outcome of the war was very much in doubt as Americans began to think that the Japanese military was invincible,” said McLaughlin. “But the Japanese didn’t factor in one key important element, the American spirit.”

According to Naval History and Heritage Command, Trout was one of many submarines sent to take part in the Battle of Midway, but her contribution was limited to picking up Japanese survivors days after the battle began.

During World War II the submarine force comprised less than two percent of the Navy’s fleet but sank more than 30 percent of Japan’s navy, including eight aircraft carriers. More importantly, U.S. submarines virtually strangled the Japanese economy by sinking almost 5 billion tons of shipping, more than 60 percent of Japanese merchant marine, according to congressional records.

The Battle of Midway is an important marker in the naval heritage of our nation because it changed the course of the war in the Pacific and world history, within just a few short minutes June 4, 1942.

Battle of Midway commemoration ceremonies will be held around the world, to include wreath laying ceremonies at all Navy regions and at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C., June 3.

Source: navy, June 2, 2011;