Erroll M. Brown was named the U.S. Coast Guard’s first admiral in 1998, completing a long journey that began when he was a high school athlete in the late ’60’s. Now retired, Brown gave credit to his parents and his tireless worth ethic for much of his success.
Born Erroll Mingo Brown in St. Petersburg, Fla. in 1950, the future admiral showed a knack for mechanical engineering as a high school student. Realizing that his college football hopes would probably not come to pass due to his small size, Brown began thinking of alternate routes to college. Brown’s parents suggested he focus on education and after receiving a recruitment letter from the Coast Guard, he saw the military branch as an opportunity to follow their direction.
Brown entered the Coast Guard academy in 1968 and graduated in 1972 with an undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. True to his ambitions, Brown would earn four more master’s degrees, which include a master’s degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, and Industrial and Operations Engineering from the University of Michigan; a master’s degree in Business Administration from RPI, and a masters in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College.
While Brown admitted that the Coast Guard did place a “glass ceiling” over women and minorities, it was on a much smaller scale than the larger military branches. In an interview, Brown said that the branch ultimately rewarded hard-working individuals.