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Iraq veteran visits Clear Lake

Michael Brennan, a U.S. Army veteran of the Iraq War, shows Clear Lake Elementary fifth-graders his uniform during his Nov. 9 visit to the school. Photo by C.J. Carnacchio. (click for larger version)
November 14, 2012 - Michael Brennan was just a fresh-faced student at Royal Oak Kimball High School when Islamic terrorists launched devastating sneak attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. on Sept. 11, 2001.

Like so many others of his generation, when he graduated, he knew what he had to do – volunteer for military service.

"I didn't want an attack like that to happen again," said Brennan, who lives in Orion Township.

Brennan, who spent six years serving in the U.S. Army, visited Clear Lake Elementary in Oxford Friday afternoon to give students a first-hand account of a soldier's life and what motivates his or her service.

"The whole idea is we wanted to win this war, so that we could make this world a safer place," said Brennan, who achieved the rank of specialist and served two tours of duty, totaling 21 months, in the Iraq War.

Brennan's visit was part of a Veterans Day celebration among the fifth-grade classes. One of those classes is taught by his wife, Lisa Brennan, who's new to the district.

While in the army, Brennan worked as a helicopter mechanic, a job he found to be very rewarding, especially when it involved helicopters used to transport wounded soldiers.

Life overseas isn't easy, particularly in the Middle East. Brennan noted how when he arrived, it was 135 degrees in Iraq and 145 degrees in Kuwait.

"I think I'm pretty accurate in saying it's the hottest place in the world," he said.

Given all the equipment they carried, how hard they worked and the extreme heat, Brennan indicated each soldier had to consume about 3,500 calories each day.

"We were eating a lot," he said.

Brennan was very honest about his time in the army. "Looking back, I'm glad that I did it. I got a lot out of it and I would do it again," he said. "But I didn't enjoy it very much. Having somebody telling you what to do all the time and people screaming at you – some people can handle it, but for me, it wasn't the best (experience)."

He is grateful that his military service gave him money for a college education and the opportunity to "see the world."

Brennan reminded students that Veterans Day is a time to "stop and be thankful for that 1 percent out there (serving in the Armed Forces and) keeping the rest of us safe."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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