Rear Admiral Erroll M. Brown

Erroll M. Brown is a retired rear admiral in the United States Coast Guard. Brown was the first African-American promoted to flag rank in the Coast Guard. Rear Admiral Erroll M. Brown's most recent position was the Coast Guard’s top ranking engineer in the position of Assistant Commandant for Engineering and Logistics. As the Coast Guard’s chief engineer, Brown was responsible for naval, civil and aeronautical engineering and logistics that includes 23,000 facilities, 230 ships, 1,800 boats and 200 aircraft. He was also responsible for managing an annual budget of $1 billion and leading more than 2000 personnel.

When Admiral Brown joined the Coast Guard more than three decades ago, he got what he bargained for and much, much more. He was able to get not one, but five degrees--a bachelor's degree in Marine Engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, two master's degrees from the University of Michigan, a master's in business administration from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a master's degree from the Naval War College in national security and strategic studies.

In 1972, Brown graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, majoring in Marine Engineering. He also earned a masters degree in Naval Architect and Marine Engineering and a second masters in Industrial and Operations Engineering at the University of Michigan. In 1986, Brown received the Masters of Business Administration degree from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He then received a masters degree in National Security and Strategic Studies when he graduated from the Naval War College in 1994.

Erroll Brown also completed Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Governmental Programs for Senior Executives in National and International Security.

Brown, a St. Petersburg, Florida native, joined the Coast Guard in 1968. He became the first black Coast Guard flag level officer when he was promoted to Rear Admiral in July 1998. Rear Admiral Brown retired from the U.S. Coast Guard on  June 30, 2005 after 33 years of distinguished service.

Brown has served as an assistant engineer officer on the Coast Guard Icebreaker Burton Island in Long Beach, Calif., as engineering officer on the Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis in Honolulu and as executive officer on the Coast Guard Cutter Rush, in San Francisco; as the military assistant to the Secretary of Transportation in Washington, and as the commander of Maintenance and Logistics Command Atlantic in Norfolk, Virginia.

Registered as a Professional Engineer in Virginia, Rear Admiral Erroll Brown co-authored a University of Michigan text with Professor Harry Benford entitled "Ship Replacement and Prediction of Economic Life".  He presented the text before the 25th Annual Collogium of Shipbuilders at the University of Hamburg in Germany.  He is also a long-standing active member with the American Society of Naval Engineers, Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, and the American Society of Engineering Educators and has held offices at various levels with these organizations.  He currently serves as the program evaluator for the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

Brown's distinguished awards include the Legion of Merit,  two Meritorious Service Medal, Secretary's Award for Meritorious Achievement, and the U. S. Coast Guard Commendation Medal (2 Awards), Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, National Defense Service Medal, Three Special Operations Ribbons, Bicentennial Unit Commendation Ribbon, Antarctica Service Medal, Arctic Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon, Expert Rifleman Medal and the Expert Pistol Shot Medal.

Rear Admiral Erroll Brown states that his family is very important and has been a major factor in his life. He is particularly grateful to his grandfather for teaching him what it means to be a man, in terms of responsibility, and to his wife and children for their love and support.

"They've been a very important part of my Coast Guard experience," says Admiral Brown about his wile of 25 years, Monica, his 18-year-old daughter, Elise-Estee, and his 16-year-old son, Aaron. The family lives in Woodbridge, Virginia, and Brown plans to retire to Williamsburg, Virginia where he intends to remain active in the engineering field. Brown looks forward to being on "father and husband" duty, playing basketball and working on cars with his son, catching a movie with his daughter, or barbecuing with the entire family.

Click on the links below for detailed information and photos on African American veterans who rose to the top of their field

Revolutionary & Civil War

The Revolutionary War set precedents for black military service. Both Africans and African Americans fought on both sides of this war, often as a means for a black slave to win his freedom.

World War I

When World War I broke out, there were four all-black regiments: the 9th and 10th Cavalry and the 24th and 25th Infantry.

World War II

African Americans made up over one million of the more than 16 million U.S. men and women to serve in World War II. Some of these men served in infantry, artillery, and tank units.

Tuskegee Airmen

The Tuskegee Airmen were the first African American military aviators in the United States armed forces.

Vietnam War & Iraq

The Vietnam War saw the highest proportion of blacks ever to serve in an American war. During the height of the U.S. involvement blacks, who formed 11 percent of the American population, made up 12.6 percent of the soldiers in Vietnam.


Don't miss a single page. Find everything you need on our complete sitemap directory.


Listen or read the top speeches from African Americans. Read more


Read about the great African Americans who fought in wars. Read more


African Americans invented many of the things we use today. Read more


Thin jazz, think art, think of great actors and find them here. Read more


Follow the history of Black Americans from slave ships to the presidency. Read more


Olympic winners, MVPS of every sport, and people who broke the color barrier. Read more

Civil Rights Activists

These men and women risked and sometimes lost their life to fight for the cause. Read more


Meet the people who worked to change the system from the inside. Read more