The Army drafted Walter Brun in 1944 and sent him to Camp Blanding, Florida, for basic training. There, he became a heavy weapons infantryman and received training to operate the 81 millimeter M1 mortar. After completing his training, Brun served with the 112th Cavalry Regiment, 112th Regimental Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and deployed to the Pacific theater.
For their first assignment, Brun and his regiment worked in the replacement depot in the Philippines near the city of Manila. Several weeks later, the men scattered to various divisions, tasked with taking central Luzon from Japanese forces. For 30 days, Brun and his fellow soldiers engaged in heavy combat.
During one engagement, U.S. forces attempted to retrieve the bodies of two killed service members. Knowing U.S. forces would not leave their dead, Japanese forces established a trap, using two men as bait. After several attempts to retrieve the men failed, nearly 50 soldiers became pinned down in the trap.
Still hoping to retrieve the bodies, Brun and his squad decided to risk another attempt. After reaching the casualties, Brun and his squad moved them out, when they too became pinned down. Once the Japanese forces noticed the bodies disappeared, they retreated, allowing Brun and the remaining soldiers to escape with the bodies. For retrieving the bodies and rescuing the trapped soldiers, Brun received a Bronze Star Medal.
Later during their deployment, while on rest and recreation time, Brun ran into a soldier playing the clarinet. After inquiring, Brun learned about the 165th Ground Force Band. After seeing the bandmaster and learning they needed of musicians, Brun applied for and was accepted into the 165th Ground Force Band. Following the surrender of Japan in 1945, Brun and the 165th Ground Force Band went to Tokyo, Japan, where they played in marching exercises and drove around Tokyo Bay during their downtime.
Brun returned to the United States in 1946 and discharged at Fort Meade, Maryland, at the rank of technician five. After leaving the service, Brun returned to his home in Pennsylvania, where he worked as a sheet metal press operator before beginning a carpenter apprenticeship. Brun went on to work as a carpenter for over 40 years before retiring at the age of 65.
Brun passed in 2017 at the age of 90.
We honor his service.
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This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Fact checker: Vivian Hurney