Thursday, August 21, 2014

Men of Destiny

Three years ago today! August 21, 2011 Colonel Frank Maryan "Brandy" Brandstetter (U.S. Army Ret.) died in the Hospital Megallanes in Acapulco, Mexico at age 99. I met Frank Brandstetter at Omaha beach, Normandy-France when he visited D-Day ceremonies. I was assigned to Sainte-Mère-Église, Omaha, Saint-Laurent, by the Commander of the 32nd Company Division, during my national service after the academy (1). My job was to be the aide of Brandstetter. The man was back on D-Day, this crucial time during WW2. In these special circumstances, emotions for him, memories of sacrifice for all veterans, perspectives emerging in a more global world, I had the privilege to be taught on history and human beings by Frank. We kept up correspondence thereafter.

Frank Brandstetter (R)

What follows is about "Brandy." Published on from Sept. 14 to Sept. 15, 2011

“He was born into Austrian-Hungarian nobility on March 26, 1912, and immigrated to the United States as a penniless teenager. Volunteering for World War II service with the U.S. Army, his background, knowledge of customs, traditions and fluency with Hungarian, Romanian, Austrian, Czech and German languages made him a perfect choice for an intelligence career. After graduating from the U.S. Army Intelligence School, he was trained by British military intelligence before he parachuted with the 506th Airborne Infantry Regiment on D-Day and led his IPW (Interrogation of Prisoners of War) team into World War II. He served as General Matthew B. Ridgway's trusted aide with the XVIII Airborne Corps until the end of the war, then, with General Ridgway in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations, and finally with the original, five-nation United Nations Organization. His awards include the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. 

Brandy continued for 40 years in uniform as a U.S. Army Reservist frequently providing assistance to the Office of the Army Chief of Staff for Intelligence, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the FBI, and the CIA. Subsequently, Brandstetter unofficially provided reconnaissance services to the United States, primarily at his own expense, to China, Greece, Cyprus, Morocco, South Africa, Spain, Argentina, Yugoslavia, and many other hot spots at times when security threats were emerging. 

As a civilian, Brandy developed real estate and excelled as a hotelier. He was the founder and operator of the Las Brisas Resort in Acapulco, a favorite destination during Acapulco's heyday. He received many awards for his active service in building community and bringing people out of poverty. This work led him to projects that educated and employed many and launched productive careers that otherwise never would have been. After learning of Brandy's influence that helped thwart a rebellion in 1981, King Juan Carlos of Spain sent a small contingent to Acapulco in 2003 to express thanks by giving Brandy an honorary membership in the Corporation Euro Americana De Securidad. His service to the world was surpassed by the quality and depth of his loyalty and his friendship. 

Brandy, Our Man in Acapulco: The Life and Times of Colonel Frank M. Brandstetter

Colonel Brandstetter resided in the United States, Jamaica, Cuba, and finally in Mexico where he made his home on the hillside above Acapulco Bay and below the tall landmark cross and Catholic Chapel of Peace, both of which he was instrumental in building. His remains were cremated and rest in a crypt beneath that chapel. Memorial services were held on November 11, 2011 at 11 am in Arlington National Cemetery at the grave of General Matthew B. Ridgway...

General Matthew B. Ridgway

- Note about General Matthew B. Ridgway: during WW2 in command of the U.S. 82nd Airborne Division and of the XVIII Airborne Corps, after WW2 in command of the U.S. forces in the Mediterranean Theater, took over the 8th U.S. Army, which had been deployed in South Korea in response to the invasion by North Korea, in command of all United Nations forces in Korea and military governor of Japan. During his tenure, Ridgway oversaw the restoration of Japan’s independence and sovereignty after General Douglas MacArthur was relieved of command by President Harry Truman, the Supreme Allied Commander, Ridgway include mission in Europe (SACEUR) for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and became the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, Ridgway continued to advocate for a strong military to be used judiciously.