Veteran finds trip to war memorials ‘incredible’

Veteran finds trip to war memorials 'incredible'

Photo: Sam Barton

Raymond Brun discusses where he traveled in Europe during WWII. Brun says he was thrilled to have gone to Washington, D.C., on an Honor Flight Dayton trip.

By Brandon Lively, Staff Writer

At 89, Raymond Brun has a lot of memories of a life well-lived. But the Kettering resident and World War II veteran still enjoys making new memories, and he made some very special ones when he traveled to Washington, D.C., in August 2012 as a guest of Honor Flight Dayton.

“It’s something I won’t forget,” Brun told The Flyer in an interview this fall.

The Flyer is sharing Brun’s story to help the Fairmont community understand the importance of their gift to Honor Flight Dayton through the annual Spirit Chain competition with Centerville High School. In the fall of 2012, Fairmont once again won the friendly contest that benefits the charities selected by each school. Fairmont raised $92,676.66 for three organizations: the Kettering Backpack Program, Shoes for the Shoeless and Honor Flight Dayton.

Honor Flight Dayton is a branch of the Honor Flight Network that flies World War II and Korean War veterans to Washington for a day to visit the memorials of the wars they fought in. Based on 2011 statistics, approximately 900 World War II veterans are dying each day. The amount of money raised in Kettering means that Fairmont will sponsor not just one, but two flights in the spring of 2013 – April 20 and May 25.

Sitting at a conference table at Fairmont, Brun reflected on his life and decided it has been a really good one – especially considering the special day of activities that he and other war veterans got to experience on their Honor Flight.

“I thought it was a really great trip,” Brun said. “It was excellently programmed, and timewise, it was very efficient. It also gave me a chance to see D.C., which was a really enjoyable thing. That is a fine city.”

On his one-day trip to the nation’s capital, Brun got to see the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the World War II Memorial, and other landmarks around the city. “The Changing of the Guard was very well-accepted. That was a very nice thing to have as part of the tour,” said Brun.

Brun said when he saw the World War II Memorial, he was “taken back” by his memories. “It’s something that I won’t forget,” he said. “It was a very excellent thing to see. Unfortunately, there were a lot of people who saw us and came over, wanting to shake hands and congratulate us. So we didn’t get around the whole area, but what we did get to see was incredible.”

Brun said he and the other veterans on his trip were treated to special receptions. One was at the Baltimore Airport in the morning, followed by a motorcycle escort from Baltimore to the WWII Memorial, and then two receptions at the Dayton Airport when they arrived that evening. The first was from airmen from the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, who then led them to their families in the lobby.

“That was amazing. There were over a hundred Wright-Patt airmen there. Then they took us to our families, and it was overwhelming,” Brun said.

Seven Bruns in WWII

Brun’s life, however, has prepared him to deal with crowds. He was one of 10 children: one girl and nine boys. Seven of the boys ended up serving in World War II.

“We had two in the Army, three in the Air Corps (Air Force) and two in the Navy,” Brun said. “All of us made it back, and none of us had severe injuries. It’s kind of hard to believe, but it’s true.”

Sadly, only three of the Brun vets are left: Raymond, 90-year-old Charles, and 84-year-old Edward.

In the war, Brun was an engineer. He designed the “big moving box” called a Half-Track, which was used to transport the reconnaissance teams in advance of Allied forces. Brun said the Half-Track became his home throughout the war. He traveled throughout Europe in one, adding that his team would sometimes get set up to do their reconnaissance work, only to get orders to break things down and move on.

“There were problems with it, sure. All new things have some issues. But that was my home, the box. That’s all it was … just a big moving box,” Brun said.

Honor Flight Dayton

Brun and his two brothers went together on the Honor Flight trip and supported each other.

“It’s a good thing, too,” Brun said, “because my brothers wouldn’t have gone on the trip if I hadn’t and vice-versa. I didn’t know anybody on the trip, and we were always moving around. But then I had my brothers … that’s all I really needed.”

Many veterans have retoured the areas where they served after their war was over.  Brun hasn’t, even though it “sounds like a nice trip.”

“I wanted to go retour Europe, but then there was the family I had here. Then, I mentioned it a couple of times to my wife, but we kept putting it off. When she died, I didn’t want to go anymore,” he said.

Brun enjoyed his service in WWII. He was in the Army and traveled all across Europe. He was proud to be an American soldier. He enjoys his veteran status and really loved the Honor Flight trip.

“You know what I missed most, though, about the war? I missed being back in the States.  And that’s where I am now. I’m home.”