Walter Anderson said at Jim Brady's wake that nobody would succeed Jim in writing those back-of-the-book celebrity interviews in Parade magazine, and his editors weren't sure how to fill the space for Jim's smooth-as-silk pieces. Walter, chairman-CEO of Parade, views Jim as one of a kind, as we all do.
He was one of a kind not only because of his superb writing skills but also because of his extraordinary discipline. "His military training spilled over to his professional life," our former editor Fred Danzig told me a few years ago. He was "a very deliberate guy, whether he was writing a book a year or exactly 500 words for us. When we asked him to do something like go to the Chilko River to report on the rafting disaster, he didn't bat an eye. He always did exactly what we wanted."
That discipline was on display when Jim served as a Marine officer in Korea. My most vivid memory of Jim was when he was presented a medal from that war that was 40 years overdue.
In the spring of 1952, 1st Lt. James Brady of the U.S. Marine Corps led an attack on the right flank of the enemy trench line. It was stopped by intense fire and hand grenades, but Lt. Brady reorganized his squad's flank, directing the base of fire with small arms and grenades against the enemy position when he and his squad were forced to withdraw due to the number of casualties. Lt. Brady took command of all able-bodied and walking wounded to evacuate the seriously wounded from the hill.
Six weeks later, Jim Brady was rotated home -- not knowing his senior officer had recommended him for the Silver Star. Then, 12 years ago, Jim ran into his old superior, retired Col. Stew McCarty. Col. McCarty asked Jim what medal he received for that 1952 firefight. It was the first Jim had heard of any medal, and Col. McCarty quickly wrote a letter requesting that Jim be awarded the medal he had recommended so many years ago. The Marines investigated and awarded Jim the Bronze Star. But it was a medal that comes with the cherished combat V for valor.
The presentation was to take place Sept. 21, 2001, at Camp Lejeune, but the events of Sept. 11 postponed the ceremony. Jim's big day was made part of the 226th U.S. Marine Corps birthday gala at the Intrepid Museum on Nov. 8 of that year.
Marine Corps commandant Gen. James L. Jones, a bear of a man at 6 foot 5, with close-cropped hair and a jutting jaw, pinned the Bronze Star on Jim. He said he was there to "correct an injustice" and "to do something long overdue." Jim's eyes were locked on the general's as a young Marine major read the citation -- the first time Jim had heard its exact words.
"With total disregard for his own safety, he exposed himself to an intense barrage of enemy hand grenades and small-arms fire while ensuring the successful evacuation of the Marine casualties. By his extraordinary heroism in the face of extreme danger, 1st Lt. Brady reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."
"The Marine Corps doesn't rush into things," Jim told me at the time. "I haven't spent the last 49 years wringing my hands over the medal because I always had the medal. It wasn't on my breast; it was in my heart. I had the great privilege and high honor of commanding U.S. Marines in deadly combat and doing it competently and with honor. There is no higher decoration or citation than that."
Jim's last article for Parade is in the Feb. 15 issue. He had a chat with Kevin Bacon over a late lunch, and when Jim noted the check, he said, "Sixteen bucks. I'll put it on the Parade expense account."