CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii --
Terry Brady stopped writing and stared at his draft. He thought about the situation at hand, the best way to relay the information, the most memorable. He feverishly jotted a few ideas on different scenarios. He’s conducted professional military education classes for some time. Brady loves it.
The Marines will get a kick out of this, he thought. He was unsure, but he hoped. It’s his last formal chance to teach his Marines something. Everything he loves – everything he knows, wraps up as the days pass. This better be a good one. One to remember.
The 56-year-old Arizona native wrapped up his course of instruction. He carefully closed the folder as if it contained more than a lesson plan. As if it contained a compressed memory of his last 38-years of service. Two-thirds of his life loom to an end as he retired Sept. 11, his 34th anniversary. To Brady, it’s bittersweet.
Col. Terry Brady, G-1 Assistant Chief of Staff with U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, came from a military family. His father was a master sergeant in the Air Force. His brother received a Purple Heart in Vietnam.
Brady’s family opposed his enlistment. A good portion of his country opposed it. As Vietnam peaked in massive public disproval and the military began acknowledging its “public approval” defeat, 1971 can easily be considered a tough year for recruiting efforts.
Not for Brady.
After establishing a perpetual interest in the military with JROTC in high school and a year of college, the visually unqualified officer candidate turned to the enlisted side.
“Like so many of us, we didn’t know where the path would take us,” Brady professed. “It was my way. At that point, if you want to join – you join the best.”
His humble appeal shows a virtuous nature. As he spoke, generally after a brief pause to consider the matter at hand, it’s easy to think Brady doubles as a philosopher.
Brady’s lengthy and conclusive career fostered his wisdom, while his enlisted beginning encouraged his affection for Marines. And, despite the rollercoaster of public support he’s witnessed over the decades, to the pride of his country.
Brady met and married his wife of 33 years, Magie, as a sergeant during his last enlisted assignment on embassy duty in Guatemala.
Magie said his honor and pride, both as a Marine and a gentleman, surprised and impressed her enough to know he was the man for her.
“I could tell when he came to see me,” she said, glancing over to a blushing Brady. “He came to see me, and talk to me. He showed so much compassion. He wanted to see if I was OK and how I was doing.”
“After a while, I knew he was the one,” Magie explained. “He was very real. Very caring. And the passion he had for country and ‘Corps – I fell in love with that person,” her Guatemalan accent present.
Brady’s passion persisted throughout his tenure. He spent as much time as he could with his daughter Rita-Marie Brady, while he continued high resolve developing his mentorship role as an officer.
“I always had a very deep respect for my father,” Rita-Marie said. “He respected the opinions of others – he taught me how to be versatile. And like Marines, he showed me that it’s not always easy but you have to keep going.
“Even though he’s retiring, it’s only the end of a chapter,” she said. “And the start of a new book.”
Brady’s compassion for his daughter, as well as Marines, has left many with more than memorable experiences. And to some, like Lance Cpl. Paola Ortiz, an administrative clerk, G-1, the ideal leadership figure.
Ortiz said she was able to identify to the genuine nature and unselfish objectives Brady emulated as soon as she arrived. While she was still under the nervous impression colonels didn’t speak with lower enlisted, witnessing a caring educator spend nights behind at work planning, plotting, quickly led her to think otherwise.
She recalled Brady’s last PME as one of the most memorable experiences in her military career, perhaps her life. The focus highlighted human trafficking, a concept most are aware of, yet remarkably detached from. Brady’s passion for education emerges.
Learning the reality of human trafficking left Ortiz, like others, in tears.
“I had heard about human trafficking,” she said. “But afterward I couldn’t stop saying ‘I never knew.’ So many people cried – I told him, ‘Sir, I didn’t know how bad it was.”
“I learned so much from him,” she added. “He did not just teach us our jobs – he taught us about life. He loved it. His wife told me he loved us. We’re losing more than just a billet.”
Despite the hole he leaves in G-1, Brady will remain in Hawaii with his wife, hopefully no further from Marines than he is now. He said his ideal achievement during his career is having made a difference, regardless of size, and educating people into a different light or approach.
“I didn’t want to teach,” he said quickly. “I wanted to educate. Seeing the light come on in someone’s face, getting that little opener.”
“It’s a big part of my career. Those experiences, elaborate plans - were always worth it. That is remembered. Never forgotten.”