Lt. Col. Gerald E. Browser ’16 was a military aviation pioneer and a founding father of Omicron Zeta.
A Brooklyn native, he joined the U.S. Army after completing his civil engineering degree in 1916, and served in the First World War as a captain in the field artillery in the Toul Sector and in the St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne offensives. He became an aerial observer for the artillery in November 1918 and there found his true calling, transferring in 1921 to the U.S. Army Air Corps.
In 1928, he was given command of the 1st Pursuit Group, the first air unit in the United States armed forces, at Selfridge Field in Michigan. After that command, he became commanding officer of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron, based at Clark Field in the Philippines. In 1936, he was appointed to the Office of the Chief of the Air Corps in charge of the Supply Division, and promoted to lieutenant colonel.
While serving as a military observer with the Royal Air Force in the Sudan, he was killed in a plane crash on April 20, 1941 near Al-Ubayyid, in what is now North Kurdufan. He was the first casualty among American military observers in the runup to the Second World War.