FLORENCE – Erwin Brady, 83, U.S. Army retired, of Wilder Place, Florence, passed away Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, at his home, surrounded by his loving family, after losing his courageous battle with cancer.
Erwin was born Jan. 27, 1931, in Whately, to the late William and Alice Cross Brady. He enlisted in the U.S. Army's 11th Airborne Division when he was 17 years old. He said, "I always wanted to jump out of airplanes". He took basic training and leadership school at Fort Dix, N.J. After leadership school he was sent to Japan where he completed parachute school and glider training. When the 11th Airborne was sent home, he returned to the states and attended master jump school at Fort Campbell, Ky. When the Korean War broke out, he volunteered for the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team that went to Korea and participated in the Inchon Invasion. October 1950, the 187th Airborne R.C.T. made a daring combat jump behind enemy lines in an attempt to rescue American Prisoners of War who were on a train being transported to China. The 187th Airborne R.C.T. was the first American unit in Japan after World War II, and was given the nickname "RAKKASANS", which means paratrooper in Japanese.
During his 30 years in the U.S. Army, Erwin also served as an advisor to the U.S. Army reserve, he was an Army recruiter during the Vietnam War, and an instructor of junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps (R.O.T.C) at Smith Vocational School in Northampton. During these years, he was in the 11th, 187th, 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions. He has made more than 200 jumps, two of which were combat jumps.
Erwin was co-owner of B & R Siding Specialist. He was active in Boy Scouts of America Troop 102, Northampton Saint Patrick's Association, Northampton Veteran's Council, Past Commander and Life Member of VFW post 8006, Member of the American Legion Post 28, Founder of the New England Airborne Chapter, Life member of the DAV, and parade marshal of the Memorial and Veteran's day parade for 30 years.
He was proudly named Veteran of the Year, Northampton (1997), Distinguished Member of the 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team (1998), and "RAKKASAN" of the Year 187th Airborne R.C.T. (1999).
Erwin was an avid outdoors man and loved spending weekends in Vermont. He enjoyed travel and researching his Irish roots.
Erwin was predeceased by his parents William and Alice Cross Brady, his brothers William, Joseph, Eugene and Warren Brady and his sisters Marge Gould and Alice Rogers.
He leaves behind his loving wife Alice Nora Maher Brady of 55 years and his daughters Lisa Murphy and her husband James of Marshfield, Rosemarie Power and her husband Jeff of Wilbraham, Colleen Torres of Florence, and Kelly Harris and her husband David of Belchertown. He also leaves his adoring grandchildren Tim and Maggie Murphy, Jeffrey and Kerry Power, Tricia and Nellie Torres, Megan, Erin and Conner Harris, as well as many nieces and nephews. Erwin also leaves his last surviving sibling Gloria Parker of Northampton.
Calling hours will be Friday from 3 to 7 p.m. at Czelusniak Funeral Home of Northampton. Funeral services will be Saturday at 8:45 a.m. from the Czelusniak Funeral Home with a Liturgy of Christian to be celebrated at 10 a.m. at Blessed Sacrament Church, Elm Street, Northampton. Burial with full military honors will follow in St. Mary's Cemetery.
Donations in Erwin's memory can be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, www.woundedwarrior project.org, or the Hotel for Heroes, www.fisherhouse.org.
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Czelusniak Funeral Home
173 North Street Northampton, MA 01060
Published in Daily Hampshire Gazette on Feb. 12, 2014