In many ways, he was your typical twenty-something Park Slope resident, hanging out at the local bars and aspiring to be a successful actor.
But Marine Lance Cpl. Julian T. Brennan, 25, also felt a calling larger than himself. He made the ultimate sacrifice Jan. 24, when a roadside bomb took his life while supporting combat operations in Farah province, Afghanistan.
“We were siting around one night playing dominoes and he said to his mother and me, ‘I have something to tell you,’” recalled Brennan’s father, Billy, at their Park Slope home. “We knew it was something big and he said, ‘I joined the Marines.’”
Billy Brennan said he and his wife were not surprised at their son’s decision as he almost signed up for the Marines after September 11, 2001.
Julian wanted to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather, James Brennan, a Marine who fought in Iwo Jima during World War II, recalled Billy, who is a children’s entertainer.
Entertaining was also in Julian’s blood. After completing high school in Washington DC, he went on to graduate from the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan in 2005 with an associate’s degree in drama.
Julian also did some commercials and off-Broadway shows as well as play guitar, said his father.
Billy Brennan said after the family moved to Park Slope in 2003, his son would often go to the local clubs and play the Tuesday open mic at Bar 47, 444 7th Avenue,
He would also frequent the Commonwealth Bar and Sidecar Bar & Grill on 5th Avenue.
“We would walk our dog, Madison, up to Prospect Park, and Julian and I would throw a ball around,” said Billy. “He also had a lot of actor friends in New York and they would come over a lot and rehearse.”
Billy said his son was really happy with his choice of joining the Marines, and that modern communication systems enabled him to talk to his son fairly regularly from Afghanistan.
“He voted for Obama and talked to my wife on Inauguration Day. He talked with compassion about the folks in Afghanistan. He could understand the resentment that locals had about any outside forces in their country. He was a happy, ethical warrior,” said his father.
Lance Clp. Brennan was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, out of Camp Lejeune, N.C. He was a machine gunner and deployed to Afghanistan in November 2008.
Brennan’s awards include the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and a Meritorious Mast.
“Brooklyn extends its deepest condolences to the family, friends and fellow Marines of Lance Cpl. Julian T. Brennan, who made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation while serving in Afghanistan,” said Borough President Marty Markowitz. We grieve with Lance Cpl. Brennan’s loved ones and hope they will be comforted by the prayers and thoughts of millions of Brooklynites, New Yorkers and Americans grateful for his valiant service.”
Survivors include Julian Brennan’s wife, Bettina Beard-Brennan, his father Billy Brennan, mother Thya Merz, a brother James, and sister Shannon.
Lance Cpl. Brennan will be buried near his grandfather, Lieutenant Colonel James C. Brennan, in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia.