James Edward Brogan
AFRH-G Veteran Highlight – James Edward Brogan
By Lori Kerns, AFRH-G Librarian
James Edward “Jim” Brogan was born in the small coastal city of Newburyport, MA in 1931. Jim was the second child of five born to a Navy civilian employee and a housewife. Growing up, he always had an inclination to join the Navy. In fact, some of his childhood memories are of him drawing pictures of ships and sailors. At the young age of 16, he decided to live out his dream of travel and adventure by joining the Navy. He was finally sworn in at 17 years old and sent off to Great Lakes, IL for boot camp.
Jim originally had the desire to be a signalman but the Navy had other plans for him. They felt he was best suited to serve as a hospital corpsman, now commonly known as a medic. His orders took him to Great Lakes Naval Hospital Corps School where he studied for three months. After his schooling, he was sent to Pensacola, FL where he stayed until the Korean War broke out. Jim was then transferred to a ship in the Pacific Fleet where he spent two years still working as a hospital corpsman.
Jim’s next assignment was to attend an environmental health school in Oakland, CA. Upon finishing, he was sent to Brooklyn Navy Yard where he stayed for about three years. Around this time, there were not enough doctors to put on every ship so the Navy used hospital corpsmen in their place. He worked an independent duty as a corpsman on an LST (landing ship tank) for two years. After his stint on the LST, he was sent to Naples where he worked in a naval hospital.
Jim ended his 20-year Navy career when he retired from Naval Air Station Brunswick in Maine. He then began a civilian career working for the Brookline Health Department in Massachusetts. He worked for the department as a health inspector for 18 years. After leaving the health department he moved to Venice, FL. One day while reading the Navy Times, he happened to see an article advertising for contractors to work at the United States Embassy in Moscow, Russia. He decided to apply and was hired to work a two-year contract in building maintenance. Jim took the opportunity to travel around Europe while in Russia. He was also present when the 1993 coup involving the Russian President Yeltsin and the Russian Parliament occurred. With the U. S. Embassy located diagonally from the Russian White House, Americans at the embassy had to evacuate and proceed to an underground gymnasium where they stayed for two days and two nights. Jim remembers the noise level being extremely high in the gymnasium. Luckily, the evacuees stayed safe underground. Only one American Marine who was posted as a lookout lost his life during these events.
After his contract was up, Jim moved back to Venice and decided to begin volunteering. He volunteered at a local hospital and with the Big Brothers Big Sisters program. With the program, he served as a mentor for underprivileged youth.
Jim is the proud father of two sons. One of his sons is a retired Marine gunnery sergeant. His other son is the Chief Operating Officer of a financial services company.
When AFRH-G opened up after Hurricane Katrina, Jim decided to move to the home. He continued his love of volunteering by giving tours and serving as a sponsor for new residents. As a great example of the long-lasting friendships residents can make at AFRH-G, Jim can almost always be found hanging out with his great friend, Roy.