Julian T. Brennan – Lance Corporal, United States Marine Corps

U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
News Release


DoD Identifies Marine Casualty

The Department of Defense announced today the death of a Marine who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Lance Corporal Julian T. Brennan, 25, of Brooklyn, New York, died January 24, 2009, while supporting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

Afghanistan bomb blast kills Brooklyn Marine and aspiring actor, 25
Tuesday, January 27th 2009

Just about everyone who knew aspiring actor Julian (Jules) Brennan thought he'd be a star someday.

The handsome 25-year-old Brooklyn man with a killer smile could sing, dance, crack you up with a joke or just endear himself to you with his sometimes goofy personality, say friends.

He wanted a career on the stage or in movies, but not before he followed a family tradition of serving his country, so he joined the Marines.

A roadside bomb blast killed Lance Corporal Brennan Saturday during a combat mission in Afghanistan's Farah Province, a growing hotbed of Taliban activity, officials said.

*Jan 26 - 00:05*

He became the second New Yorker to fall in Afghanistan this year while serving with the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Marine Lance Corporal Alberto Francesconi, 21, lost his life to a land mine in Afghanistan on New Year's Day.

Brennan's brother, James, and father, Billy, a singer who tours the nation entertaining kids with environment-themed tunes, were too distraught to talk.

But family friend Charles Marahan, 75, described Julian as a “real swell kid, a very good-looking boy who was the darling of the girls. Jules was made for the stage and the movies. You either have it or you don't, and he had it.”

Brennan graduated from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan in 2005 with an associate's degree in drama, then took a job as a carpenter with the Martha Stewart show.

“He was in a couple of Off-Broadway shows and it looked like that was what he was going to do,” said Marahan, “but then he got the bug to join the Marines.”

“His grandfather fought in the Pacific theater in World War II, and Jules wanted to emulate him,” he explained. “The family had a military tradition, and he wanted to live up to it.

“We're all shook up about this because we expected to see him come back,” Marahan said dolefully. “The Marines, they offered him a commission because he was a college graduate, but he turned it down. All he wanted to do was one tour then return to acting.”

Brennan also was a pretty fair athlete who finished the 2007 New York City Triathlon in 2:44:21.

On his MySpace page, he described himself “as a guy who will go out of his way to make someone laugh, write a great song, find a reason to dance, and watch the sun rise every chance he gets.”

Slain Marine Lance Cpl. Julian Brennan's wedding secret

Wednesday, January 28th 2009

Lance Corporal Julian Brennan married his fiance before shipping off to Afghanistan.
Bomb blast kills Brooklyn Marine and aspiring actor, 25

A professionally trained actor before he joined the Marines, Lance Corporal Julian Brennan had a gift for improvisation.

And before he shipped out to Afghanistan in November, he did something on the spur of the moment – he secretly married his fiancée.


“They were going to have a big family celebration when he returned,” Brennan's father, Bill, said Tuesday.

Bill Brennan and his wife, Thya Merz, learned of the marriage only this week, when two Marines arrived at their Brooklyn home with news that their 23-year-old son was killed in action.

“One of the most heartbreaking things of all of this is they were really planning their life together,” Merz said.

*Jan 28 - 00:05*

The young Marine and his bride met at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan in 2004.

Brennan graduated in 2006, got his Screen Actors Guild card and began lining up acting gigs while working as a carpenter on Martha Stewart's show.

He had always been interested in the military. His grandfather earned the Navy Cross at Iwo Jima during World War II, and he nearly enlisted after September 11, 2001.

Still, when he sprung the news on his family one night in May, they were “speechless, which doesn't happen very often,” said Merz, who runs a private school in Chelsea.

Julian and his father were playing dominoes and drinking beer when he said, “I have something to tell you.”

“And when a 23-year-old says that, it could be anything,” said Bill Brennan, a children's entertainer. “But we did not expect, ‘I joined the Marines.'”

Two months later, he was on his way to Parris Island boot camp, where he finished second out of 680 recruits. Then it was off to Afghanistan, where he served in a weapons unit.

His mother last spoke to him on Inauguration Day – he was a Barack Obama supporter – and he expressed a “deep empathy” for the Afghan people.

His father called him a “happy and ethical warrior.”

Brennan was killed Saturday by a roadside bomb while driving a Humvee. The family plans to bury him at Arlington National Cemetery with his grandfather.

His wife, Bettina Beard, will join the Brennans there. They told her not to come up this weekend because she's in a show.

“Julian would want her to do the play,” his mother said.

Brooklyn native became Marine because of grandfather's influence
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.

012709 Julian T. Brennan killed in Afghanistan-PM

James C. Brennan

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

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.

29 January 2009:

In many ways, he was your typical twenty-something Park Slope resident, hanging out at the local bars and aspiring to be a successful actor.

But Marine Lance Corporal Julian T. Brennan, 25, also felt a calling larger than himself. He made the ultimate sacrifice January 24, 2009, when a roadside bomb took his life while supporting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan.

“We were siting around one night playing dominoes and he said to his mother and me, ‘I have something to tell you,’” recalled Brennan’s father, Billy, at their Park Slope home. “We knew it was something big and he said, ‘I joined the Marines.’”

Billy Brennan said he and his wife were not surprised at their son’s decision as he almost signed up for the Marines after September 11, 2001.

Julian wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, James Brennan, a Marine who fought in Iwo Jima during World War II, recalled Billy, who is a children’s entertainer.

Entertaining was also in Julian’s blood. After completing high school in Washington DC, he went on to graduate from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan in 2005 with an associate’s degree in drama.

Julian also did some commercials and off-Broadway shows as well as play guitar, said his father.

Billy Brennan said after the family moved to Park Slope in 2003, his son would often go to the local clubs and play the Tuesday open mic at Bar 47, 444 7th Avenue,

He would also frequent the Commonwealth Bar and Sidecar Bar & Grill on 5th Avenue.

“We would walk our dog, Madison, up to Prospect Park, and Julian and I would throw a ball around,” said Billy. “He also had a lot of actor friends in New York and they would come over a lot and rehearse.”

Billy said his son was really happy with his choice of joining the Marines, and that modern communication systems enabled him to talk to his son fairly regularly from Afghanistan.

“He voted for Obama and talked to my wife on Inauguration Day. He talked with compassion about the folks in Afghanistan. He could understand the resentment that locals had about any outside forces in their country. He was a happy, ethical warrior,” said his father.

Lance Corporal Brennan was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. He was a machine gunner and deployed to Afghanistan in November 2008.

Brennan’s awards include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and a Meritorious Mast.

“Brooklyn extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and fellow Marines of Lance Corporal Julian T. Brennan, who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation while serving in Afghanistan,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz. We grieve with Lance Cpl. Brennan’s loved ones and hope they will be comforted by the prayers and thoughts of millions of Brooklynites, New Yorkers and Americans grateful for his valiant service.”

Survivors include Julian Brennan’s wife, Bettina Beard-Brennan, his father Billy Brennan, mother Thya Merz, a brother James, and sister Shannon.

Lance Cpl. Brennan will be buried near his grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel James C. Brennan, in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.

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.

Arlington funeral makes history for Corps
Courtesy of Marine Times

On a cold and blustery afternoon, Lance Corporal Julian Brennan became part of history at Arlington National Cemetery.

Brennan, 25, became the first junior enlisted Marine eligible for burial with full military honors at Arlington. His service Thursday included an escort platoon, drummers from “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, a casket team, a firing party and a bugler. Brennan’s family chose to opt out of using a horse-drawn caisson that is frequently a part of full-honors funerals in order to conduct the service on the soonest possible date, said Kaitlin Horst, an Army spokeswoman at Arlington.

Brennan, a machine gunner with Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, based 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines, was killed January 24, 2009, in Farah province, Afghanistan. His death was the last in a rapid change of events for the Marine, who went from being a card-carrying member of the Screen Actor’s Guild in New York to enlisting in May, his family said in media reports. He quietly married his fiancée before deploying.

Brennan’s parents described themselves as anti-war in several news reports, but said their son had been interested in the military for years. He became more serious about enlisting after his grandfather, retired Lieutenant Colonel James Brennan, died in 2005, according to the New York Daily News. The late officer fought on Iwo Jima, earning a Navy Cross.

In a profile he posted to the Web site Friendster, Brennan described himself as “kinda a goof-ball [sic].”

“I love being outside, the woods, the ocean,” Brennan wrote. “I respect honesty and fear those who lie well. I love snow, summer rain, double-stuff Oreos and all things that go bump in the night.”

The honors at the funeral became possible following a policy change made by the Army in January and approved by the Corps this month. Previously, only officers, Medal of Honor recipients and Marines with the rank of E-9 were eligible.

A full-honors funeral also is scheduled February 24, 2009, at Arlington for Sergeant Trevor Johnson, Horst said. Johnson, 23, a member of 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion, was killed January 27, 2009, in an explosion in Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Julian T. Brennan

Members of the honor guard escort the remains of U.S. Marine Lance Corpotral Julian T. Brennan to the
burial site at Arlington National Cemetery Thursday, February 5, 2009

Julian T. Brennan

Members of the honor guard carry the remains of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Julian T. Brennan, to
the burial site at Arlington National Cemetery in Thursday, February 5, 2009

Julian T. Brennan

Members of the honor guard carry the remains of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Julian T. Brennan,
to the burial site at Arlington National Cemetery Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bettina Beard

Bettina Beard, widow of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Julian T. Brennan, holds
the flag presented to her during burial services at Arlington National Cemetery

Bettina Beard

Bettina Beard, widow of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal, Julian T. Brennan, touches the box containing her late
husband's remains following a burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Thursday, February 5, 2009

Bettina Beard

Bettina Beard widow of U.S. Marine Lance Corporal Julian T. Brennan, kisses the box containing her late
husband's remains following a burial ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery Thursday, February. 5, 2009


A Marine Firing Party Fires A Volley At The Funeral For Lance Corporal Justin T. Brennan At Arlington National Cemetery



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


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