As a veteran, I have been honored to serve, interact with other great military members, and met incredible and admirable veterans.
Here are some of my memories: Joan and Katherine were both World War II Naval cryptography officers. One was stationed in Washington, D.C., the other in Oakland, California. They were key figures in cracking the German and Italian codes.
There was John, a World War II bomber navigator who flew over 35 European missions.
His last flight was brought down by German ground fires. In late 1944 he ended up in a POW camp. John shared with me stories of distracting the German guards to capture a security dog for dinner. Later as American, French, English, and Canadian prison camps were combined, he had a reunion with three of his college friends, who were also captured.
Jim was a Korean War USAF bombardier. His subsequent career was being a U.S. Treasury agent. Jim and I became close friends as I was CEO of a 350 resident retirement community. Early on, when we saw each other we traded a hand salute. Jim eventually acquired Alzheimer’s disease. On his final week I went to visit him along with his wife and the family’s minister. He was in a low bed in his room. I bent down to tell him how much I loved him and appreciative he was in my life. His body was thin and frail. All of a sudden Jim propped up in bed and turned to me rendering a final hand salute.
Gerry and I worked together at Bon Secours Hospital. During the Vietnam War he was a Special Forces officer. His stories of interacting with the South Vietnamese and other international forces brought grins to my face but also terror of what he experienced.
In the early 1970s I was assigned to the Secretary of the Navy’s Public Affairs staff. With the Vietnam War still occurring and the Thanksgiving holiday looming, my commanding officer inquired if I would travel to Dover Air Force Base to serve families as the remains of fallen Navy and Marine Corps members arrived. As the Hercules C5 arrived it was humbling to see the stainless steel; flag draped caskets come off the ramp escorted by an honor guard.
As we prepare for Nov. 11 please thank and honor Michigan’s over 680,000 veterans, as well as those across the nation and territories.
Jeffrey D. Brasie, M.A.
JO2, U.S. Navy; Ensign, U.S. Navy Reserve
Grosse Pointe Woods