Main article: 1996 Croatia USAF CT-43 crash
USAF MH-53J Pave Low helicopter over wreckage of the USAF CT-43A approximately 3 kilometers north of the Dubrovnik Airport in Croatia, 3 April 1996.
On April 3, 1996, when Brown was 54 and on an official trade mission, the Air Force CT-43 (a modified Boeing 737) carrying Brown and 34 other people, including New York Times Frankfurt Bureau chief Nathaniel C. Nash, crashed in Croatia. While attempting an instrument approach to Dubrovnik’s Čilipi airport, the airplane crashed into a mountainside. Everyone aboard was killed instantly except Air Force Tech. Sgt. Shelley Kelly, a flight attendant, who died while being transported to a hospital. The final Air Force investigation attributed the crash to pilot error and a poorly designed landing approach. Speculations as to the circumstances surrounding the plane crash that caused Brown’s death include many government cover-up and conspiracy theories, largely based on Brown having been under investigation by independent counsel for corruption. Of specific concern was a trip Brown had made to Vietnam on behalf of the Clinton Administration. Brown carried an offer for normalizing relations between the U.S. and the former communist enemy.
Brown was buried with full state honors at his hometown.
Lateresa A. Jones