One of my hero’s died on Saturday April 7th. Claude Brandtner was one of my dad’s greatest friends and an all around fantastic guy. I don’t return back to my hometown in Iowa all that often but when I do, I have never not stopped to visit Claude. This summer when I took my wife and children back this summer to see where I had grown up and what my life use to be like, we stopped in to see Claude and take him and his son for dinner. Unfortunately it was to be our last visit. Although sharp as a tack and witty as ever, Claude didn’t have long to live and he knew it. Ed Swaney, another true friend of my dad’s also passed away on Sept 11th. Both of these men served their country in WWII and were truly a part of the greatest generation. Both were small town boys from the Midwest who were called to duty to serve and protect their country.
Claude served in the European theater and received a Purple Heart when he was injured at Anzio beach if my memory serves me correctly. Ed was an anti-aircraft gunner on the USS Nevada which was sunk at Pearl Harbor. Ed would then participate in the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
These two men never bragged about their service, quite the contrary they were proud of how they served and rarely spoke of the battles the fought. They both were business men with incredible integrity and a great sense of how precious life is and why you have to enjoy it every day, because they knew that you never really know when it is going to end.
My hero’s are all dying. One of the first to go was Emerson Cahalan who had fought with the Marines and was one of the first men to land on Iwo Jima with the 4th Marines. He also participated in the battles of Tinian and Saipan yet I could never get him to talk about any of those parts of his life. How fitting that he died on the 4th of July in 2006. I have such great respect for Emerson. He was such a true Patriot and gentleman.
I have no doubt that there are lots of men and women of our Armed Forces who have dedicated their lives to protecting all of us, whether we appreciate them or not. Unfortunately I don’t know as many as I use to. I have recently gotten to know a Special Forces veteran who is about as sterling an individual as you could meet, but these encounters are few and far between because men of my generation for the most part never fought or served their Country in battle.
Thank you Emerson, Ed, and Claude for serving your Country with Dignity, Honor, and for being willing to sacrifice your life so that others can enjoy their right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Thank you to all Veterans who have served. All of us at DesignAShirt are grateful.
I rarely post, but I would like to hear from our Veterans who have served our Country. I want to personally thank you for your service and hear your stories.