Northern Nevada Mourns the Loss of a Great Warrior and Citizen
By Tyrus W. Cobb
Reno and the nation have suffered a great loss with the passing of Lt. General Martin Brandtner (USMC-Ret), who died unexpectedly on January 3. “Marty” was a heavily decorated and twice-wounded Marine, having been awarded the Navy Cross not once, but twice (The Navy Cross is just one level below the Medal of Honor)! He and his wife Sandra moved to northern Nevada in 2003, and he was deeply engaged with the National Security Forum, the Catholic Diocese, Manogue High School, and several service clubs.
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As a Captain commanding a rifle company in Viet Nam in 1968, Brandtner led a reconnaissance patrol near the village of Lan Phuoc, where his lead platoon triggered an ambush by North Vietnamese (NVA) troops. As Brandtner moved forward to join the fight, he was hit badly when an enemy grenade showered him with shrapnel. Brandtner ignored his own injuries and moved forward to attack the North Vietnamese ambush position, tossing his own grenades, and destroyed the enemy stronghold. The fight continued as a short range grenade duel as other NVA troops moved forward. Ignoring his own wounds, Brandtner scooped up the enemy grenades and hurled them back at the NVA troops.
When a grenade landed near his own fire team, Brandtner picked the grenade up and threw it back at the enemy. Knowing the grenade’s force would also hit his own team, Brandtner flung himself atop his own men, absorbing the shrapnel himself. Despite his wounds, then Captain Brandtner consolidated his unit’s position, coordinating artillery strikes against the NVA positions. That forced the enemy to abandon its positions and flee, and only then did Brandtner allow the corpsmen to attend to his wounds.
Just eight days later, Brandtner and his company were establishing ambush positions when they were attacked by a battalion-sized NVA force. Ignoring enemy rifle, machine-gun and rocket fire, Captain Brandtner moved from position to position, directing his Marines’ fire, reorganizing the defense and inspiring his men. Over the next two hours, the NVA launched three more attacks and were thrown back with severe losses each time. The NVA attacked repeatedly, but the Marines held their positions and the enemy forces finally withdrew. During the two battles, while the North Vietnamese suffered considerable casualties, Brandtner’s company lost only one man!
These two actions resulted in Brandtner receiving two Navy Crosses and the distinction of being one of only two Marines in Vietnam to earn the medal twice.
During his career as a Marine infantry officer, General Brandtner led at every level, commanding three platoons, two rifle companies, a battalion, the storied 5th Marine Regiment, and as the Chief of Staff of the 1st Marine Division.
As a general officer, he served as Assistant Division Commander, 2nd Marine Division, Fleet Marine Forces (FMF), Commanding General, 10th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and Commanding General, 2nd Force Service Support Group, FMF.
General Brandtner’s staff assignments included serving as the Senior Military Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy during the Reagan Administration. In 1990, General Brandtner was nominated for his third star and assignment as Director for Operations, J-3, on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, serving under General Colin Powell. As the J-3, General Brandtner was responsible for operational planning for Operations DESERT SHIELD and DESERT STORM, and subsequent major U. S. global operations in Turkey, Iraq, Bangladesh, Somalia, and Bosnia.
General Brandtner is survived by his wife, Sandra, and four children and seven grandchildren.
Thank You ….. City of Sparks !!!