Honor, Valor and Semper Fidelis: Why We're Proud of Jim Brady

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For the first time in 28 years, Jim Brady's wit and wisdom won't be gracing our pages in 2006. Jim is moving on to other assignments (he'll be writing a column for forbes.com, has renewed with Parade to write more articles, and his book, "Warning of War," is about to be made into a movie.) But he had a remarkable run with us.

What our former editor Fred Danzig remembers most about Jim is his great discipline. "His military training spilled over to his professional life," Fred told me. "He is a very deliberate guy, whether he is 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."

My most vivid recollection was when Jim was presented a medal 40 years overdue.

In the spring of 1952, during the Korean War, 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 six 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. His big day was made part of the 226th U.S. Marine Corps birthday gala at the Intrepid Museum Nov. 8.

Marine Corps commandant Gen. James L. Jones, a bear of a man at 6 foot 5, close-cropped hair, 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." Then Gen. Jones pinned on Jim's medal.

"The Marine Corps doesn't rush into things," Jim said. "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."

In an article he wrote for the New York Post to commemorate the event, Jim ended up: "Oh, what a town this is! Oh, what a life it's been!"

We're proud to be a part of that life, and we're proud of Jim's courageous acts in a forlorn place more than a half-century ago. We'll always be grateful for his dedication, his keen insights and his inestimable talents.

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