The Miracle Of A Word

May 8, 2009

He lay unresponsive in a coma for 23 days at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, after being severely injured in a roadside bomb blast in Afghanistan, that left him with severe TBI and missing his legs. His family kept vigil at his bedside, talking with him, trying to coax him out of his coma, to no avail. His worried family continued to hope and pray, though his prognosis looked grim, due to the severity of his brain injury. One day, last June, with the utterance of one word by a visitor to his hospital room, that all changed.

On that day in June 2008, General David Petraeus came to visit 1LT Brian Brennan, who served with the 101st Airborne Division at the time of his injury. General Petraeus once commanded the 101st. When he arrived, General Petraeus tried speaking typical words of encouragement to the young Soldier.

“Hang tough, big guy.” General Petraeus said. “Your troopers need you back out there.” 1

There was no response whatsoever from the hospital bed. It didn’t seem to matter that the Commander of US Central Command was in his room, speaking to him. Lt Brennan lay motionless. Petraeus said he really didn’t think there was any hope. As he turned to leave, something made him decide to turn around and try one more thing.

“I just decided to shout out, ‘Currahee,’” said General Petraeus. “We counted one, two, three Currahee.”2

The word ‘Currahee’ is a Cherokee Indian word that’s also the motto for the Band of Brothers regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. The word translates to English as “We Stand Alone.” The utterance of that single word by General Petraeus somehow broke through the fog and Lt. Brennan responded.

“That’s when he kind of sat up in the bed as best he could,” said Jim Brennan, Brian’s father.

“Like he was saying, ‘I’m in here, I’m in here.”’ Said his mother Joanne Brennan.

“All of a sudden, the lieutenant, his stumps are banging up and down on the sheets. His head is moving around and very clearly responding to his unit’s nickname,” said Petraeus. “For three weeks, he had not responded to the voices of his family, but that Band of Brothers motto brought him back from the living dead.”3

That day in June, marked the beginning of his miraculous recovery. Brian is now out of Walter Reed, receiving out patient rehabilitation on his hand, his prosthetic legs and his speech. His memory is improving and less than a year after his horrific injuries happened, he delivered a speech to a crowd of around 2,000 people. He was also able to meet up with General Petraeus again, when he introduced Brennan as the unsung hero in the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

“I accept this honor on behalf of all service men and women …..” 1LT Brennan began.
“And guess what happened,” said his father.
“One, two, three, Currahee!” said Petraeus.4

His hometown has rallied around him and his family, to make sure that Brennan is able to return home and continue recovering from his injuries, creating a trust to help defray the costs of travel, treatment and ensuring that Brandon would have a wheelchair compatible place to live. A new 1,000 square foot addition has been constructed onto his parents home in Howell, N.J. A team of volunteers in the community donated time, money and labor to construct the addition, so that Lt. Brennan would be able to return home during his recovery, yet be independent. The construction was a complete effort of the community.

“This has been one of the most rewarding experiences, and I have met some of the nicest people,” said Jack McNaboe who took the lead in the volunteer effort.5

According to Brandon’s father, Jim Brennan, the Stands Alone trust fund that was set up, has exceeded Brian’s needs. The family plans to begin helping the families of other wounded veterans with the additional funds received.

“Our mission is to help the family members and the loved ones of wounded soldiers stay (with them) longer through their recovery, so the Soldier’s health can improve,” said Joanne Brennan. “I want to meet with the families of wounded veterans and see their faces when I say, ‘Give me your bills. Don’t worry, stay with your loved one.’”6

It’s amazing how that one word, Currahee, changed the course of Brian Brennan’s recovery and how from that has grown a non-profit organization whose mission is to ease the load on the family members of our Wounded Warriors. I applaud the Brennan’s for taking the time to think of the needs of families in a similar situation as the one they faced, knowing the hardships being away from home can cause, as they care for their loved ones, and doing what it takes to ease that burden for these families. 1LT Brian Brennan is truly an inspiring young man; a Soldier who takes pride in his service and in our country and who demonstrates the tenacity and resilience, which is so evident in our Troops. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least, if 1LT Brian Brennan ends up eventually returning to active duty, once his recovery is complete.

I encourage everyone to visit the Brian Brennan Stands Alone website to find out more about the trust and find out how you can help other wounded warriors and their families by making a donation to the trust.

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3 Responses to “The Miracle Of A Word”

  1. BPT (Australia) on May 10th, 2009 5:35 am

    Thanks for posting that encouraging story. Lt Brennan is a real hero.

  2. susan on May 10th, 2009 7:56 am

    You would be surprised what can be accomplished with the
    G*d is so GOOD! Call upon his name and be saved!

  3. The Miracle Of A Word on May 10th, 2009 10:10 am

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