For Posterity's Sake
A Royal Canadian Navy Historical Project
In memory of those who have Crossed the Bar
BROWN, Donald Henry (Buster) - It is with deep sadness, yet immense pride, that we, his family, announce the crossing of the bar of D.H. “Buster” Brown.
Born in London, England, in 1941, he immigrated to Canada with his mother in 1946, and grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He began his military career by joining the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets in Winnipeg in 1954, prior to his enlistment in the Royal Canadian Navy in 1958 as an engineering mechanic.
During his first four years as a sailor, he served at sea aboard the minesweeper HMCS Fortune, completed a four-month tour in the Far East aboard HMCS Crescent, and was later drafted to the destroyer HMCS Micmac based in Halifax.
By 1962, he had completed further trades training and volunteered to go on exchange and undergo training with the Royal Navy’s submarine service in the United Kingdom. In so doing he served in Her Majesty’s Submarines Grampus, Andrew, Anchorite, Alliance and Aeneas.
During that six year period, Buster served in home waters, the Mediterranean, and spent two further years in the Far East with the 7th Submarine Squadron based in Singapore. He was promoted to Leading Seaman and was awarded the Malay Peninsula clasp for service at sea during the Indonesian Confrontation.
In 1968 he returned to Halifax and served aboard the submarine HMCS Onondaga and later that year commissioned HMCS Okanagan in Chatham, England. His time aboard Okanagan was highlighted in by the RFA Grey Rover incident, when she was accidentally rammed by the British tanker in 1973. Buster remained on Okanagan through 1981, rising in rank to the position of Chief Engineer, and appointed Submarine Squadron Chief ERA.
Due to qualified personnel shortages, Buster was then drafted to the destroyer HMCS Skeena as Chief ERA and was to receive indoctrination training aboard HMCS Nipigon in the NATO Squadron in Europe. By 1984, Brown served on staff of the Commander Sea Training, Atlantic, as Chief ERA, charged with the task of training and working up ships’ crews in achieving operational status at sea.
In 1988, Buster was named Coxswain of the tanker HMCS Protecteur, and a year later returned to the submarine service as part of the inaugural Submarine Sea Training Group’s Chief ERA. During this time, with the deployment of three ships to the Gulf War operational theatre, he was recalled to assist in at-sea training preparations and sailed aboard HMCS Terra Nova.
Upon returning to Halifax, Buster was appointed to the Admiral’s staff as the Command Chief Petty Officer, Maritime Command, a post he held until retiring from Canada’s navy in 1995.
Following his retirement, he was engaged as a member of the Royal Canadian Legion Dominion Command’s Defence Committee, with which he remained active until well into his 70’s. Buster participated as Legion representative in both the Canadian Forces “Showtour 2000” in Bosnia, and the commemoration of the 65th Anniversary Korean War Armistice in South Korea in 2008.
Buster was lured into the Hollywood movie business in 2001, working as Submarine Technical Advisor on the feature-film production “K-19: The Widowmaker”, filmed primarily in Halifax and starring popular actors Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson, in 2001.
Buster was also chairman of the Submariners Association of Canada (East), a board member of the Royal Canadian Naval Association, and a long time member of the Atlantic Chiefs & Petty Officers Association in Halifax.
Concurrent to his illustrious military career, he remained active as a volunteer in his community, organizing a Mens’ Dart League at the Herring Cove & District Volunteer Fire Department, and acted as head coach for hockey teams in the Chebucto Minor Hockey Association in Spryfield throughout the 1980’s and early 1990’s. A talented handyman, a meticulous gardener and lifelong sports fan, he ardently supported the Montreal Expos and the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Most importantly, he was a devoted and loving husband to his wife Gerri, proud father to sons Jeff Brown and Brent Rigby, themselves military members, and adoring grandfather of Colin Brown, Benjamin Rigby and Lucas Rigby.
He was predeceased by his parents Donald Ramsay Brown and Nora Katherine Hopgood.
He is survived by his stepbrother Dan Colleaux of Winnipeg, his wife Gerri (nee Keefe) of Halifax, his sons Jeff Brown (Anne) of Halifax and Brent Rigby (Nicole) of Greenwood, N.S., grandsons Colin Brown of Halifax and Benjamin & Lucas Rigby of Greenwood, aunt Mary Brown of London, England, cousins Patricia Brown of New York, N.Y. and Clive Brown of London, many loving and nieces and nephews and countless friends, shipmates and fellow submariners all over the world.
“It’s all about attitude and adaptation.”
We have the watch, Chief.
Awards and Decorations: Order of Military Merit, (Member), G.S.M. 1962 ( w/Malay Peninsula Clasp), S.S.M (NATO w/Bar), Silver Jubilee, 125th Anniversary, Golden Jubilee, Diamond Jubilee, Canadian Forces Decoration, C.D. (w/two clasps). International Submarine Service medal, Pingat Jasa Medal Malaysia. Maritime Commander's Commendation - Maritime Commander's Unit Commendation (Submarine Sea Training Group)