COLUMBUS, OH – At age 99, George P. Brown from Columbus, OH, relies on a walker to help him get around. His mind, however, needs no help. Until recently he was preparing tax returns for accounting clients. He is alert and sharp as ever and an active Life Member of AHEPA Columbus Chapter 139.
Brown graduated from Ohio State University in 1938 with a degree in accounting. When World War II broke out, the 26 year-old volunteered for the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC), which was the precursor to the OSS and the CIA.
He was one of 4,000 CIC agents ferreting out enemy agents, collaborators and saboteurs, while working with a network of resistance fighters and informants from around the world. These CIC agents were mostly professionals from the fields of law and accounting. They were intellectual warriors rather than physical ones, with their job being to sniff out rather than to rub out enemies
Prior to his first mission, George spent three months training in Washington, DC while a background check was being done on his father, who hailed from Andritsena, Greece.
The government needed to check as to why he had changed his name from Kalantjopoulos to Brown upon entering the United States through Ellis Island in 1903 (a common practice for immigrants entering this country).
Once his background was cleared, George was assigned to a number of locations during the war, some of which were in the United States, Great Britain, France, and even in Germany posing as a peasant worker. He spent time behind enemy lines in Normandy in preparation for the invasion.
Brown lived in the home of French allies in Normandy gathering information. On June 25, 1944, a pro-Nazi Frenchman saw George as a stranger to the town and alerted the Gestapo.
George’s bedroom was on the second floor and the Gestapo fired three shots into the bedroom from street level, missing George who had hidden successfully. When he visited his hosts in 1965 with his family, the holes in the walls and ceiling were still present.
George worked with the French underground unit, which was literally an army made up of the toughest, smartest persons organized into command, sabotage, intelligence and engineering units located throughout France.
Persons from all walks of life volunteered and became part of the underground army. They trained secretly and interacted with British and American experts who parachuted regularly into France during the night. They played an important role in the invasion of Normandy and in the saving of lives.
On June 3, 1944, many secret messages were sent which had no meaning. But three sent over the next few days were important. The first, “The long sobs of the violins of autumn” (the first phrase of “Autumn Song,” a poem by Paul Verlain), signaled to stand by for the invasion.
A second message (the second phrase of the poem) signaled the invasion was on. The third message, “The dice are on the table,” was the alert to destroy the valves, water pumps and steam injectors on all steam locomotives in the railroad yard, to cut the massive telephone cable feeding out of Cherbourg, and to begin destruction of the power lines in the area.
After D-Day, Brown continued his undercover work in France, Luxembourg, and Belgium. George was injured by an explosion in the vicinity of heavy fighting during the Battle of the Bulge (December, 1944 – January, 1945) which resulted in permanent deafness of his right ear and an extended hospital stay in Europe.
Upon returning stateside, he enjoyed a successful career in accounting and business. George has been an active member of the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church of Columbus, a member of the Archdiocesan Council, a member of Leadership 100, and an Archon who was awarded the Cross of Saint Andrew by Patriarch Athenagoras.
Together with his beloved wife Helen, who passed away in 1999, George has been blessed with three children, nine grandchildren, and three great grandchildren.
God has granted him a long and healthy life. George P. Brown is a patriot, philanthropist, wise parent and grandparent who is blessed with many graces and who continues to serve and help whenever and wherever he is needed.
By Phillip Frangos, Supreme President of AHEPA