James Clark Brennan – Lieutenant Colonel, United States Marine Corps

Lieutenant Colonel (retired) James Clark Brennan, United States Marine Corps, formerly of Harbor Bluffs, Largo, Florida, passed away at Keswick Multi-Care Center, Baltimore, Maryland, at 86 years of age.

Colonel Brennan was a World War II veteran, who served with the Marines and was awarded the Navy Cross for “extraordinary heroism” on Iwo Jima.

He lived in Largo for more than 25 years. Beloved husband of the late Frances Mary Brennan; devoted father of Ellen Anderson (Duxbury, Massachusetts), Thomas Brennan (Wilton, New Hampshire), Patricia Brennan (Dublin, Ireland), William Brennan (New York City), David Brennan (Largo, Florida), Mary Anne Brennan (Baltimore, Maryland), and Jane Pope (Los Angeles, California). Also survived by 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Interment Arlington National Cemetery, on April 8, 2005 at 3 P.M.

Brooklyn native became Marine because of grandfather's influence
Thursday, January 29th 2009
By Michael Daly
Courtesy of The New York Daily News

The photo shows Julian Brennan kissing his grandfather's coffin at Arlington National Cemetery, a young actor of uncommon talent making a gesture of tender respect for a brave, old Marine.

*Jan 28 - 00:05*

Even as his lips brushed the smooth wooden coffin that day in 2005, the grandson had begun a transformation. The family would mark Lieuenant Colonel James Brennan's burial as the moment Julian Brennan began to become a Marine.

“That was the transformative event for Jules,” Bill Brennan of Brooklyn, son of James and father of Julian, said yesterday.

But where James Brennan survived Iwo Jima against all odds, Lance Corporal Julian Brennan was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on Saturday.

012709 Julian T. Brennan killed in Afghanistan-PM

In the days ahead, the family plans to return to Section 66, Grave 284 at Arlington and perhaps place a portion of the grandson's ashes with the grandfather who roused him.

The grandfather received the nation's second-highest medal in World War II, but Julian Brennan did not enlist daydreaming of getting a Navy Cross to frame.

What the grandson most admired of the grandfather was the understated and unadorned spirit of determined decency that is at the core of the Corps; a spirit James Brennan lived by to the day he lay in that polished coffin.

“Quiet, sure and clear,” Bill Brennan said. “Julian said my dad made him want to be a better man.”

The grandson briefly considered enlisting after 9/11, but instead followed a passion for theater to the American Academy of Dramatic Art. He became a fine and talented actor, but in his father's words, “He had to move beyond that in a sense.”

At the grandfather's burial, Julian Brennan was as filled with the Marine spirit as if it had been passed to him with the kiss of the coffin.

“He found a spiritual path with the Marines,” Bill Brennan said.

“Paying attention to your loved ones and also paying attention to your own vision of the way to live your life.”

One way Julian Brennan paid attention to his loved ones was secretly marrying his fiancée, actor Bettina Beard, before he headed into harm's way so she would receive a widow's benefits should the worst happen.

One indicator of his new vision of life was a change in his Facebook profile, which had reported him working a struggling actor's job as a carpenter for “The Martha Stewart Show.”

Employer: USMC
Position: Machine gunner
Description: I fire a M19 fully automatic grenade launcher from the turret of a Humvee.

One Facebook photo showed him in a smiling embrace with Beard. “I'm so lucky,” read the caption.

Bill Brennan took some comfort that his son was not in the senseless war in Iraq but instead was in Afghanistan, going after the forces that attacked the World Trade Center the way James Brennan went after the forces that attacked Pearl Harbor.

The father got a reminder every time he drove by Ground Zero.

“That's what Julian was doing, responding to that,” he said.

Julian Brennan was a supporter of President Obama and he telephoned his mother on Inauguration Day, when more than a million people waved the American flag in the National Mall.

He spoke with compassion of the Afghans who scrape by in such a desolate, unforgiving land.

Bill Brennan was born after World War II, and neither he nor Julian would have ever existed had his father not been so lucky on Iwo Jima. The odds are much, much better for a Marine in Afghanistan.

But the family's luck gave out on Saturday. He was cremated Wednesday. The memorial is sure to embrace the full circle of his friends.

“Marines and drama queens,” Bill Brennan said.

The family plans to divide the ashes between two places close to Julian Brennan's heart, the land of his ancestors and the resting place of the grandfather whose coffin he so tenderly kissed on that transformative day four years ago.

“Ireland and Arlington,” Bill Brennan said.

NOTE: Lance Corporal Brennan will be laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery on 5 February 2009 following services at the Fort Myer Memorial Chapel at 3:00 P.M.

SPOT AWARD, Fleet Marine Force, Pacific: Serial 45501 (June 19, 1945


The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to James Clark Brennan (0-12937), Captain, U.S. Marine Corps (Reserve), for extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer of Company G, Third Battalion, Twenty- Seventh Marines, Fifth Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 20 March 1945.

After his assault platoons had been repeatedly driven back from the crest of an enemy-held ridge, Captain Brennan braved intense hostile small-arms and hand grenade barrages to advance to the head of his company and lead his men in a final successful assault on the Japanese position.

Breaking the last strongly organized resistance in the Battalion zone of action, he contributed materially to the success of our forces on the Island.

His courage and devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon Captain Brennan and the United States Naval Service.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 05/04/1918
  • DATE OF DEATH: 03/11/2005


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 07/30/1919
  • DATE OF DEATH: 10/03/2002

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