Fair Winds and Following Seas – A Tribute That Does Not Do Him Justice

Fair winds and following seas. These are words of a sailor wishing for safety and well-being, this time, it was forever. My son, in his second year as a Navy man, comes by his tendencies. His father was a reservist, and his Grandfather was a Navy Lieutenant Commander. Christian has always loved the water and has been surrounded by all things Navy. When Christian was three, his Dad was sent overseas to serve for 18 months. His Grandpa Brady became a staple and a backbone for me and for Christian. He was not constantly present, but was a constant force of stability and was there when we needed him. For him, this was a totally different experience, as in his career he was always the one leaving for deployments. I will always remember when Shaun returned from duty, this man looked his ex-wife in the eyes and said, “Until I saw what Anne has gone through, I never realized how hard it was to be the one left behind to run life. I’m sorry I never realized how hard it was for you.”  My mother-in-law did what anyone would do in the moment of a raw and real apology, she cried. Recently, we gathered to wish this great man, this incredible servant of our country, one last goodbye and thank you.

“My Grandpa was a badass”. Christian takes incredible pride as the words leave his lips, and he speaks the truth.

LCDR James Christian Brady was a Navy helicopter pilot.  In Vietnam, he flew reconnaissance missions across enemy lines to bring sailors and soldiers back to “our side. He has stories that would break your heart. Being out to sea and in his helicopter were his joys! When a brothering aircraft carrier caught fire while out to sea, he flew injured off that ship to medical care and returned flight to move sailors over from his ship to fight the fire. After active duty, he served in the Navy reserve and flew multiple missions in the states. This man loved to fly. His commanding officer would call him up on a Saturday and tell him to “go take one for a spin” and off he’d go.  He would fly past his own home and hover over it and wave flags at his kids to say hello. At his funeral, many of his flight awards were on display. He was more impressive on paper than I ever realized while he was alive. This is just who he was – humble, never bragging or boastful. A humble servant to his country and his family until the end.

I knew this man as a father, a Grandfather to my son, and of course, my now former father-in-law. He loved to golf, watch baseball, laugh and drink Diet Pepsi. He was kind and funny, loved freely, and was exceptionally polite. When I was married to his son, he took it upon himself to teach me to golf. I was a softball player and he was gifted with patience that I did not have for myself. I used to tease that he wrote it into our marriage contract that I had to learn to golf. He never gave up on me, “practice, practice, practice, you’ll get it, and then one day you’ll love it.”  I never got it, I’m still a horrible golfer, but I think of him every time I look at my clubs gathering dust in the garage.

He loved his wife, his kids, and especially his Grandkids. Christian, following his Navy footsteps, brought such incredible pride to him. At his funeral, his family and friends gathered to pay deserved respects and comfort those who had the pleasure of loving him.  “He died of a rare disease,” as the Priest said, “befitting for a man who was one in a million”.

Fair winds and following Seas, Jim
In memory of LCDR James Christian Brady

I know he’s flying around in heaven, I’m just waiting to hear the helo sounds in my dreams 🙂

Forever the journey, Anne

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