Charles Martin Brown was born July 8, 1922, in Los Angeles County, California. His mother was Clyde Mona Moxley Brown. His father might also have been named Charles.
By the time of the 1930 Census the boy was living with his mother and stepfather, Edward Van Dusen, in Montebello, a city east of downtown Los Angeles. The couple had married in 1927.
By the spring of 1940 Charles had completed three years of high school but was no longer enrolled. He earned $75 for 11 weeks’ work in 1939 doing road construction for the Civilian Conservation Corps, a Depression-era federal jobs program.
Mr. Brown enlisted in the Navy on Oct. 30, 1940. He was a seaman second class on the U.S.S. Arizona when he was killed in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
His stepfather, who had been a supervisor custodian for the Los Angeles city schools, was 41 when he enlisted in the Navy in October 1942. He became a gunner’s mate and petty officer first class and did most of his service in the Pacific aboard the U.S.S. Prairie, a destroyer tender. Mr. Van Dusen served until March 1946.