Bio: Brux, Gary (American Legion Post Renamed - 2012)

Contact: Dean Laser


Surnames: Brux, Adler, Hinker, Wallis, Novobielski, Horton, Vesel, Oswald, Arch, Blecha, Humke, Johnson, Leach, Brown, Dill, Williams, Stowe, Braun

 ----Source: Granton News (Granton, Clark County, Wis.) 10/19/1917

Brux, Gary (American Legion Post Renamed - 2012) 

Greenwood’s American Legion Post 238 has long been identified by the names of two local boys who died in combat in the nation’s wars. Make that three.

A third name, that of a a vibrant young man whose life ended on a battlefield in southeast Asia 46 years ago, officially became part of the Greenwood Legion’s name as of Veterans Day 2012. The local Legion’s name now becomes the Wallis-Hinker-Brux Post, in honor of the three young men who were the first to die in three different wars: Henry Wallis in World War I, Richard Hinker in World War II, and Gary Brux in Vietnam. (The Greenwood area lost no soldiers in Korea). Brux’s family was recognized in a special Veterans Day program on Sunday afternoon at the Legion Hall, where the Post’s new sign was unveiled.

Greenwood Post treasurer Dick Adler said Legion leaders were talking about a year ago and realized the Post’s name was incomplete. The names of Wallis and Hinker had for decades stood as reminders that local men had indeed been part of the nation’s long list of those killed in action, but the local post had never acted to add another name from Vietnam. A request to the national office of the American Legion took care of that task, and the Wallis-Hinker-Brux name became official on Sunday.

Brux moved to Greenwood with his family in 1946 and graduated from Greenwood High School in 1956. After earning a degree in accounting from St. Norbert’s College in 1960 and participating in ROTC there, he enlisted in the Army and was stationed in Georgia and Hawaii, among other places, before being sent to Vietnam in January 1966 as part of an airborne brigade advisory detachment. He was there just over nine months when he was killed by fragments from enemy mortar fire on Oct. 26, 1966. He was 28.

Greenwood lost four of its own in Vietnam, but Brux was the first and only one of them to lose their life in action. According to a Post history compiled by 67-year Legion member Ken Speich, the other three died in non-combat incidents: Frank Gasparac was killed in an April 1966 motorcycle accident; Cedric Boe died in September 1966 when he fell overboard on the USS Kitty Hawk in hostile waters; and Duane Novobielski died in October 1967 of a disease he contracted in Vietnam.

At Sunday’s program, six of Gary Brux’s surviving seven siblings were there to see the sign bearing their brother’s name unveiled. Gary was the oldest of Harlan and Dorothy Brux’s children. Kathryn Horton was next, and she recalled her older brother as a happy-go-lucky fellow who enjoyed his young life in Greenwood.

“Gary was a fun-loving, high-spirited popular kid who loved sports and friends and most of all, having a great time doing it,” Horton said.

After college, he accepted his role in the military, and took it seriously.

“He liked his leadership role and was dedicated to being a kind and competent officer,” Horton said.

Brux was promoted to first lieutenant in 1963 and to captain in 1964. He earned a Bronze Star for his work in Hawaii.
In 1965, he came home on leave for what would be his final time
“The last time we saw Gary was the summer of 1965. We were all together. A family picture was taken. Our mother insisted on it,” Horton said. “When we said goodbye and wished him luck, we were so confident we would see him again. We were so wrong.”

Adler read a local newspaper clipping of the account of Brux’s death, and the community’s reaction. All businesses in Greenwood closed from 10 a.m. until noon on the day of his funeral.
Horton said the family was crushed, but took solace in the realization that their son and big brother had passed away in defense of the United States.

“We knew he gave his life for something he deeply, deeply believed in -- his country,” Horton said.

Dale Brux, Gary’s younger brother, held one of Gary’s dog tags in his hand as he spoke Sunday. The other set was buried with Gary, Dale said, but the other one he possesses serves as a lasting memento of a young life lost in battle.

“He won’t be forgotten,” Dale said. “He gave the ultimate sacrifice. He’s the one being honored.”

Dale said he was going to read a list of some of his brother’s accomplishments in the Army, but changed his mind.

“That’s not important,” he said. “It’s important now to realize we have a hero in our eyes to make some kind of sense of all of this.”

Horton said the Greenwood Legion Post’s decision to add Gary’s name to its title means a great deal to the family that remains.

“It is indeed a great honor to have our brother added to Post 238. How pleased our parents, Dorothy and Harlan, would have been,” she said.

Dale Brux said the family still misses its oldest sibling, but has to carry on without him.

“It’s tough to give up a buddy, to give up a brother, to give up a friend, but we will persevere,” he said.

Horton said the family will always keep Gary with them.
“We pray and remember the boy, the man, the Army captain, with honor and love,” she said.

The Greenwood Legion Post was first chartered in September 1920, and was first named after Henry D. Wallis, a member of the legendary Red Arrow Brigade of the Wisconsin National Guard. First a camp cook and then an infantryman in World War I, he was killed in France on July 18, 1918, while setting up his automatic rifle. He was the first of three men from Greenwood to die in the first World War. Everett Varney and Aubrey Cox followed later in 1918.

Wallis’ name stood alone on the Greenwood Post’s sign until March 1946, when Richard Hinker’s was added. He was the first of 16 Greenwood area men who died in either the European or Pacific campaigns, according to Speich’s research.

Hinker actually enlisted before the U.S. entered World War II, and died just after the Pearl Harbor attack. He was killed on the Bataan Peninsula in December 1941. As the Japanese attacked and took over the peninsula, Hinker and others tried to escape to a nearby island by boat. Their craft was sunk, and he perished. He was listed as missing in action for two years.

The other World War II dead from Greenwood were:
-- John Vesel, captured on Corregidor in the South Pacific, survived the Bataan Death March but passed away in a Japanese POW camp on March 31, 1943.
-- Warren Oswald, killed in the Aleutian Islands during a Japanese invasion on June 6, 1943.
-- Steve Arch, killed in action in Europe on Oct. 9, 1943.
-- Lee Blecha, killed aboard the USS Buch in the South Pacific on Oct. 9, 1943.
-- Herbert Humke, killed in a flight training crash in Europe on Sept. 20, 1943.
-- Matthew Johnson, killed in an air raid on London on Oct. 14, 1943.
-- John Leach, killed in action in Italy on Dec. 4, 1943.
-- Kermit Brown, killed in action in the South Pacific on July 13, 1944.
-- Norman “Bud” Wallis, a nephew of Henry Wallis, killed in action on Aug. 10, 1944.
-- Leo Dill, killed in the airborne infantry’s “Operation Market Garden” action on Oct. 7, 1944.
-- Harvey Williams, killed in the European Theatre on Oct. 10, 1944.
-- George Johnson, killed in action on March 31, 1945.
-- Edward Lindner, killed in retaking of the Philippines on April 11, 1945.
-- Lawrence Stowe, killed during a kamikaze attack on the the USS Luce off Okinawa on May 4, 1945.
-- Neal Braun, killed on the USS Indianapolis on July 7, 1945, just three weeks before the war’s end.





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