CPL Robert W. Brigham
101st Airborne/502/HQ Reg/HQCo/Demolitions
Wounded 22 Oct 44; Died: 23 Oct 44
-- Darla Brigham Brewer --
A box of Daddy's personal effects traveled with me throughout my life. Mom turned them over to me when
I became a married woman at the ripe age of not quite 17. With each move, from Virginia to New York and
then to South Carolina (where I have resided for the past 34 years) . . . Dad's memorabilia went too.
Occasionally, I would take out the contents, read the V-mail to Mom, view the pictures in the album he
personally constructed and try like everything . . . to 'know' this handsome young man.
Some of the adjectives used to describe him by friends and relatives were . . . handsome, strong, fun,
great 'jitter bugger', clean, neat, responsible . . . determined. In his photo album, I could indeed
see such a man. He stood tall and straight when posing in his jump suit and paratrooper boots . . .
smiled broadly while playing drums with a combo of buddies . . . and had the look of determination as he
cut the hair of fellow troopers.
It's quite interesting to see some of Dad's talent instilled in me and mine . . . I too, cut hair as do
two of my three daughters. Most of my life, Dad's personal effects stayed out of sight . . . and mind.
I cannot answer the 'why' question, but I'm so glad that my eldest daughter helped to free him from the
attic. Having read a WWII novel and becoming nostalgic about that period . . . she inquired if I had
anything of my Dad's. I shared what I had and we two set out on an adventure of a lifetime.
We've had the privilege of meeting via phone, mail (regular and e-mail) . . . authors on the 101st Airborne,
George Koskimaki and Mark Bando. Through their help, we've connected with several paratroopers who knew Dad
and served with him in the 101st.
One of the men, Rusty Quirici, and my Dad were the only two survivors of an explosion of land mines that 22nd
day of Oct '44 . . . Rusty at 19 years of age lost a leg . . . my Dad died the following day of injuries
sustained in the blast . . . he was a 23-year-old son, brother, husband and father . . . lost to us forever.
Does it make sense that young men sacrificed their lives on foreign soil. It is because of their sacrifice
that we have been able to raise our children (their grandchildren) in peace and safety. In one of Dad's v-mails
and in a time of thoughtful contemplation he writes . . . 'you asked me why I joined the army . . . well, it's
so that you and Darla can have a safe place to live." No romantic notions here, just plain facts . . . he (and
others like him) died so that we could enjoy a freedom that would have been ripped from us had they not. Am I a
proud daughter . . . you bet I am . . . and a thankful one too!