Maribel, Wis. (WFRV) – “He was good-hearted and helped anybody. He was a worker, all of us pretty much were workers.” Pat Brantmeier recalled his brother Bernard, who he affectionately calls Butch.

Growing up on a farm west of Denmark as one of 10 kids, Brantmeier was used to working hard. 

On the same day in 1965, he and his younger brother Ray joined the service.

“We knew that with a big family, going to college was not going to be an option in most cases, but then we ended up going into the service because it was a way of getting an education,” Brantmeier said.

His oldest brother Gerald had already served in the Marines, but Brantmeier didn’t know exactly what to expect in the Navy.

“I wanted something more than just being a foot soldier,” he said.

And Brantmeier got that, as a reactor operator aboard the USS Andrew Jackson.

“I was on a missile submarine deterrent. Basically, we went to the Mediterranean and we hid. That was our job. We operated out of Rota, Spain and we’d go through the straits, go into the Mediterranean and we’d hide,” Brantmeier recalled.

While Brantmeier was deep beneath the seas, his brother Butch was fighting with the Army in Vietnam.

Butch was in just six months before he was killed by a boobytrapped bomb while on patrol.

Brantmeier says he doesn’t remember much about that day, but he’ll never forget his younger brother, and what the world would be like if he were here today.

“He’s an inspiration to a lot of people. And you think about it all the time. I just know that the world would be different, and better, much better. He just had that personality to do whatever it takes to get something done,” Brantmeier recalled.

It’s part of the reason Brantmeier says we should be grateful for those who fight for our country, and especially those like Butch who isn’t here for us to thank today.

“I guess what I would ask is that people would respect the veterans and know that they can be free because of what veterans did, especially the ones that died or fought for freedom. Just thank a veteran for that,” he said.