Every war veteran has a story, but U.S. Army Capt. Brian Brennan’s has been making headlines ever since his Humvee exploded in Afghanistan and the 23-year-old was left fighting for his life. It’s a story that B&S Aircraft wants others to hear and celebrate during this year’s “Salute to Veterans” at AirVenture.
“We couldn’t think of a better way to honor Brian than to let him use this year’s show as a platform to share his courageous and inspiring story with others,” said David Copeland, manager of program development for B&S Aircraft. “His last two years of selfless service and pure determination can be an inspiration to us all.”
On May 7, 2008, after only two months in Afghanistan, the Howell, N.J., native was leading a patrol with three other soldiers and a civilian when an IED exploded under his Humvee. Brennan and his gunner were the only two survivors. They were both thrown 40 feet from the vehicle. Found in cardiac arrest, Brennan was quickly transferred to a field hospital where it was discovered he had sustained a traumatic brain injury, a collapsed lung, internal bleeding, a ruptured spleen, multiple compound fractures in his left arm and a shattered femur. Within hours, both legs were amputated.
“We got the telephone call no parent ever wants to get,” said Joanne Brennan, Brian’s mother. “For weeks we watched as Brian underwent surgery after surgery but we didn’t know if and when Brian would regain consciousness. To this day, we are so grateful for all the battle buddies, field medics, rescue pilots, nurses and doctors that saved our son’s life. We are also forever in debt to General Petraeus for Brian’s awakening and return to us.”
Brennan was unresponsive for 23 days until he received a visit from Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan. After visiting and thanking Brian’s family for his sacrifice, Gen. Petraeus tried to wake up Brennan by uttering the word “Currahee” (the motto of Brennan’s unit, 101st Airborne) which means, “stands alone.” It seemed like Brian had heard him, so on the count of three, he shouted “Currahee” again. Upon hearing those words, Brennan attempted to sit up to attention — his first form of communication since the explosion.
While Brennan has received national attention as a combat veteran and hero, including a recent segment on ABC’s “Nightline,” Brennan has focused his attention on more than himself during his road to recovery.
In 2009, Brennan and his family established the Brennan Stands Alone Foundation to ease the burden of those injured in the line of duty by providing financial and emotional support so that they may focus on treatment and rehabilitation. It especially focuses on those suffering from brain injuries.
“Brian’s recovery has been a long journey that can only be described as miraculous,” said Joanne. “While he had an outpouring of love and support from everyone that knew him, I think focusing his passion to give back and help others facing the same struggles was a tremendous step in his healing process as well.”
Today, Brennan is a decorated veteran who has received a bronze star, Purple Heart and numerous other awards recognizing his heroism. He is stationed at MacDill AFB SOCOM (special operations command) in Tampa, Fla., and travels periodically for inspirational speaking and fundraising efforts for the foundation.
“Like I do with every veteran I meet in passing, I approached Brian at an airport recently and thanked him for serving this country,” said Copeland. “The more we talked and the more I learned about what he has gone through the last couple of years, the more I realized that this young man has a compelling story that needs to be told. I immediately thought of this year’s AirVenture show and thought it would be the perfect venue.”
Founded in 1965, B&S Aircraft Parts & Accessories (an AMETEK company) of Wichita, Kan., specializes in the repair, maintenance and overhaul of starter generators, fuel systems, fuel injectors, boost pumps, deicer components, inverters, electric motors and other accessories and components for a wide variety of general aviation, commercial and military aircraft. The company is a Class I, II and III repair station with an unlimited rating from the FAA. B&S Aircraft is also a Precision (Bendix) Product Support Center and a Goodrich/Lucas Authorized Repair Center. It is an authorized repair station for a number of leading accessories and components manufacturers. For more information: BSAircraft.com.