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Sense of duty followed retired soldier

After more than two decades in the Army, Alan H. Brennan is a proud veteran who has kept his military connection.

By JULIANNE WU, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 20, 2002

LARGO -- When he goes out, Alan H. Brennan wears an Army baseball cap or his drill sergeant's hat.

"I'm proud of my time in the Army," he said of his 23 years as a medic on Normandy and serving in postwar Germany, Korea, and stateside as a recruiter.

He enlisted his oldest son Roderick.

His other two sons also served, Robert in the Air Force and Roger in the Navy.

When the Brennan boys graduated from high school, dad gave them a choice: "I told them they either had to go to work, go to college or go into the service. They all chose the service."

* * *

Alan Brennan's more than two decades in the Army began in 1943. He quit the 11th grade to go to World War II. "I was 18," said Brennan, now 78.

"Because I wore glasses, I had to become a medic. Back then, if you wore glasses, that's what you got."

Shipped overseas with the 176th General Hospital unit, he arrived in Normandy, France, on Day 10 of the D-Day invasion. "Our job was to stop the bleeding and give out morphine," he said. "We would then move the injured to the back of the lines so the doctors could work on them. I saw lots of men with their arms and legs blown off and saw a lot of people die."

During the Korean War, Brennan was back in his hometown of Niagara Falls, N.Y., and decided to re-enlist. Because he was already married and had one son, he was sent to Germany as part of the armed forces occupation. He remained there five years.

He ultimately went to Korea after that war to serve as a recruiting sergeant. A heart attack got him discharged at the age of 39.

* * *

Roderick Brennan, who lives in Lewiston, N.Y., was in the Signal Corps in Vietnam and decoded messages for about a year. He and his wife Patty, a former teacher, are enjoying their good fortune.

As the elder Brennan tells it, Roderick and his wife went on a bus tour to Atlantic City. Each person received tokens for the slot machines. "Just as they checked into the hotel, Patty put some tokens into a machine and won a jackpot of $6.7-million."

Robert Brennan served as an Air Force avionics mechanic at Fort Dover, Del., for four years. He is on a medical disability and lives in Clinton, N.Y., with his wife Bonnie.

Roger Brennan was stationed in Sicily for two years as a Navy Seabee. He was injured when a bunker the Seabees were building under Mount Etna collapsed. Roger Brennan had three broken vertebrae and was discharged from the service on a disability.

The elder Brennan, who has six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, for several years was a volunteer at the VA Medical Center at Bay Pines and is a member of the Disabled American Veterans, Chapter 91, in St. Petersburg.

Today, Alan Brennan is facing new challenges, mostly medical. He has had six heart bypasses and may have breast cancer. Doctors are to remove a year-old tumor next month.

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