First black Naval Academy graduate dies

The first African-American to graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy has died, according to an announcement from the school Wednesday.

Wesley Brown started at the academy in 1945, after the first five black men to attend failed to complete their first year there. He graduated 370th out of nearly 800 graduates in 1949, gaining national media attention, and went on to have a 20-year career in the Navy.

Brown, who was in his 80s, was a veteran of World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and spent time with the Navy working in various other countries.

He retired in 1969 with the rank of lieutenant commander.

Brown went on to work for the New York State University Construction Fund, the New York State Dormitory Authority and the University Planning Office at Howard University, which he retired from in 1988.

Brown, who lived in Washington, retained ties to the academy through the years, including through his service on the Naval Academy Alumni Association Board of Trustees. In 2008, a new athletic facility at the academy was named after him.

Adm. Mike Miller, superintendent of the academy, said in a statement that Brown would be "remembered for his enthusiasm and leadership, his friendliness, and his strong commitment to the Academy and its mission."

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad