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Veteran surprised with Marines annual award

Bulldog Detachment honors Brintzenhofe

Bulldog Detachment honors Brintzenhofe

January 08, 2007|by MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - Vernard Brintzenhofe's license plate frame says it all: "Not Mean, Not Lean, Still a Marine."

Active and committed at the age of 81, Brintzenhofe has his eye firmly on the future and how he can continue to serve his country and his fellow man.

Recently, he was looking back - as well as surprised - when his name was announced as the 2006 Marine of the Year by the Bulldog Detachment of the Marine Corps League.

"I had three other guys that I thought would get it," Brintzenhofe said.

Brintzenhofe, an Ohio native, joined the Marines in 1942, when he was 17.

"I was the only one of five friends who passed the physical," he said.

During his tour of duty, he saw action with the 1st Marine Division at Guadalcanal, where he contracted malaria and was sent back to the United States.

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Brintzenhofe later was with the 4th Marine Division on Saipan and Iwo Jima. He was injured in the head and leg, and he said he woke up three weeks later in Hawaii.

Two months ago, Brintzenhofe and 11 other Iwo Jima survivors met in Quantico, Va., to sign copies of a painting commemorating that battle.

"We each signed 550 copies ... it took almost all day," he said.

Once recovered from his Iwo Jima experience, Brintzenhofe joined fellow Marines who were training for the planned invasion of Japan.

"But that never came, because (President) Harry (Truman) dropped the bomb," Brintzenhofe said, referring to the ordered bombing of Hiroshima that ended the war in 1945.

After the war, Brintzenhofe returned to Ohio.

Having learned engineering in the service, he worked in that field as well as owned a heating business on his own.

"He was my first husband's boss," said Lucille "Lu" Brintzenhofe, his wife of 41 years.

After they married, the couple moved to Maryland, where Brintzenhofe was a civilian engineer at Fort Ritchie. They stayed there 10 years.

The next post resulted in a 33-year stint at Fort Belvoir, Va.

"We came back to this area 2 1/2 years ago because my two children are in the area," Lu Brintzenhofe said.

Her husband's children live in Virginia and Florida. He has six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Brintzenhofe joined the Bulldog Detachment shortly after he returned to Hagerstown and has been very active, most recently in the Toys for Tots endeavor with The Salvation Army in Hagerstown.

"I stood at the door and directed people to the tables where they needed to go to get their food and toys," he said.

The Bulldog Detachment meets once a month. Brintzenhofe often serves in color guards and at funeral details for Marines.

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