WWII veteran receives medals after 74 years

Castle Rock man never realized he qualified for honors

Jessica Gibbs
jgibbs@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 9/28/20

Arthur Brodin sat in his townhome staring at a list of medals a congressman would present to him in two days. The list was seven medals long. Brodin quietly shook his head. The ceremony, the medals, …

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WWII veteran receives medals after 74 years

Castle Rock man never realized he qualified for honors

Posted

Arthur Brodin sat in his townhome staring at a list of medals a congressman would present to him in two days. The list was seven medals long. Brodin quietly shook his head.

The ceremony, the medals, the attention — it was all too much, he said. Unnecessary, he thought. Other men had sacrificed more than he did, he said.

The 97-year-old, who lives alone in Castle Rock and still drives when he needs to be somewhere, is simply happy to be home and have his health, he said.

“I was thankful I came out of it with a broken ankle and some other injuries, partial injuries, to my body. It amounted to a 10% disability,” he said. “I was very thankful to come home with that much.”

More than 70 years after he served in World War II, it did not occur to Brodin he might qualify to receive medals for his service in the U.S. Army. Brodin enlisted at Fort Logan in Denver in April 1943, becoming a surgical technician and serving in the European theater during the war.

His family only learned Brodin should have some medals as they made preparations in the spring for him to go on a private group tour of the battle sites he'd fought at in recognition of the 75th anniversary of the end of the war.

Tell him to wear his medals, the tour guide said.

He doesn't have any, said his daughter-in-law, Lisa Brodin.

Since he served in WWII, Brodin should meet the criteria for medals, she recalled the tour guide telling her. The family inquired with U.S. Rep. Ken Buck's office, and sure enough, there were plenty of medals waiting for him.

Brodin has now received the Good Conduct Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and Bronze Star Attachment (Triple), the WW2 Victory Medal, the Army Occupation Medal and Germany Clasp, the Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII, and the Marksman Badge and Rifle Bar.

As Buck put it during the Sept. 26 medal ceremony in Castle Rock, Brodin “did his job, came back to America and just got right back to it.” Buck called the opportunity to recognize Brodin a great honor.

“The Greatest Generation has been ignored for a long time, and because of Art and his fellow soldiers and Marines and airmen, we enjoy the freedoms that we enjoy,” Buck said. “It's great for us in a time when we are divided like this to look back and see a time when our country came together to take on a struggle.”

Brodin helped with preparations for D-Day and survived a glider crash eight days after the operation's launch. His plywood, motorless aircraft smashed into thick forest after being released too early, he said. The airplane towing his glider was taking on gun fire and had to deviate from the plan.

Brodin, who joined the U.S. Army as a surgical technician, was thrust into the role of combat surgeon that day. With some gauze and stainless-steel scissors, Brodin was expected to care for the other men on board his glider should anything happen.

Their assignment was to place bombs on bridges coming into Utah Beach. The officer in charge died in the glider crash from a broken neck. His unit took care of him, Brodin said, leaving his body in the care of another medic unit, and went on to place their bombs before rejoining the U.S. forces.

Later on, Brodin can recall joining a convoy to Paris, running out of gas and watching airplanes drop 5-gallon gas cans from the sky so they could motor on.

He remembers trenching through deep mud during the rainy season in Saar Valley, Germany, for more months of fighting.

He fought in Battle of the Bulge, regarded as “arguably the greatest battle in American military history,” reads the U.S. Army's website.

Christmas was just another day that year, Brodin said.

Brodin was honorably discharged on Feb. 5, 1946. Back in Colorado, he returned to the family farm in Longmont where he grew up, and then went on to a boarding house on South Pearl Street in Denver, where he met his wife, Luella.

The couple moved to Aurora and had three children. Arthur today has six grandchildren, four great grandchildren, and another on the way. He has lived in Castle Rock since roughly 2003. Luella died in 2016.

One of Arthur's son's, Robert Brodin, said he lived most of his life without his father making one mention of the war. Only within the past 15 years did Arthur start to share stories, Robert said.

“Being able to converse about it and ask questions and get more of what he did and what it meant to him to be in the military, it was great,” Robert said.

Robert, who served 21 years in the U.S. Navy, said honoring his father is important to keeping the history of WWII veterans alive and teaching the next generation about their sacrifice.

“He probably could live out his days and not even blink an eye,” Robert said, “but it's these medals and these stories that people need to understand.”

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