SOLDIER STORIES: In The Footsteps of a Hero: The Joseph Brennan Story

(Video by Staff Sergeant Jesse Granger, 17 OCT 2011.)

Dedicated to the memories of Sergeant Joshua C. Brennan and Specialist Hugo V. Mendoza, KIA 25 OCT 2007.

Joseph Brennan enlisted in the Army after his cousin, Sgt. Joshua Brennan was killed in action when his squad was ambushed on Oct. 25th, 2007 in the Korengal Valley of Kunar Province, Afghanistan. For his actions that day, fighting off the ambush and recovering the wounded Brennan from the clutches of Taliban fighters, then Specialist Salvatore Giunta was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Ever since that tragic date, Joseph has followed in the footsteps of his cousin Joshua. Jesse Granger recently caught up with Spc. Joseph Brennan as his unit was engaged in a full-spectrum training environment exercise at Grafenwoehr Training Area in Germany.

The U.S. Army Europe’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, stationed in Vicenza, Italy, is conducting Europe’s first full-spectrum training environment exercise, and it began with a bang: 1,500 paratroopers jumped in to Hohenfels Oct. 5 in the first brigade-sized airborne operation in Europe since the unit’s combat jump into Iraq in 2003. A battalion of Slovakian soldiers is augmenting the U.S. Soldiers fighting in the role of enemy forces. Never before have former eastern bloc and U.S. forces worked together as opposing forces in such numbers.

Twenty-five years ago we trained to fight against Eastern Europe, now we fight and train with them. This training is also a change from the exercises that prepare units for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Instead of focusing on counterinsurgency operations, the U.S., alongside troops from more than 10 other nations, are encountering complex training scenarios where they attack and seize objectives, defend against or attack conventional enemy forces and rapidly transition into a stability operations posture. 

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