District Of Columbia








POSTED ON 4.10.2001
POSTED BY: Joseph Olszewski

He tried to help

I was the Platoon Commander of the 3rd Platoon, Golf Company, 2/26th Marines from September, 1967 to February, 1968. Father Brett was the Battalion Chaplin.

I remember working with him when one of my Marines discovered that his girlfriend was expecting his child. Father Brett tried to arrange for the girl's parents to send her to Hawaii so her and my Marine could be married before her delivery. It never happened as he was killed in April. But Father Brett tried.

I would appreciate hearing from any of his relatives or any of the members of the 2/26th Marines who served at Phu Bia or Khe Sanh in 1967 and 1968.
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POSTED ON 3.12.2001
POSTED BY: Robert Greer

A priest where the men needed him most

Robert R. Brett
S. 29th Street, Tasker

The Roman Catholic priest grew up on S. 29th Street in South Philadelphia, graduating from nearby St. Gabriel's School and later Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He was ordained in the Marist order in 1962 and enlisted in the Navy in 1967 while teaching at Immaculata Seminary in Lafayette, La. The Navy Lieutenant was killed on Feb. 2, 1968, in Khe Sanh, Quang Tri Province, Vietnam, at the height of the Tet offensive, when a Viet Cong mortar round hit a bunker in which he was celebrating Mass for members of the 3rd Marine Division. He was 32 years old. Brett "was neither a hawk or a dove, but he wanted to be where the men needed him most, so he requested overseas combat duty in Vietnam," recalled a family member. Survivors included two Sisters.
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POSTED ON 6.20.2000
POSTED BY: Edward M. Rouse, Lt. USMC

Dedication of Brett Hall

Invitation ** Dedication of Brett Hall

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

The family of Chaplain Brett 2/26 and the Commanding Officer of the Naval Chaplain's School would be honored to have each and every Khe Sanh Veteran attend the dedication of Brett Hall this August 8th, 2000 at the Naval Chaplain's School in Newport Rhode Island.

Sending invitations to each veteran is almost impossible so below is an exact copy of the invitation. If you wish to have a hard copy please contact me by e-mail with your name and address and I will mail you an invitation by snail mail. Please feel free to forward this message to any and all Khe Sanh Veterans and family....Semper Fidelis...Memory Eternal..

Edward M. Rouse
Nephew of Chaplain Brett

The Commanding Officer , Naval Education and Training Command request the pleasure of your company at the dedication of Brett Hall and the Graduation Exercises of Naval Chaplains School Class B000020 on Tuesday, the eigth of August two thousand at ten o'clock Naval Chaplains School Newport, Rhode Island.

Uniform: Summer White
Civilian: Informal

RSVP (401)-841-2557

The principle speaker will be General Charles E. Wilhelm, USMC Commander in Chief United States Southern Command

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POSTED ON 6.19.2000
POSTED BY: Dennis Mannion

Father Brett and Communion on Hill 861 at Khe Sanh

Father Brett: It is good to make contact with you after all these years. I somehow, someway, found your nephew Ed Rouse and he and I have communicated. I sent him copies of two letters from a bunch that my mom had saved. In both letters I mention you. One centered on your appearance on Hill 861 fairly early on in the siege and how happy I was to receive my only Communion at Khe Sanh from you (in the CP bunker) and an absolution from all my sins up to that date in my life! I have never forgotten the moment when we met and your link from me to God. I'm sure my mom was pleased to read about that in the letter. (The 2nd letter mentioned the news about your death and how bad many of us on the hill felt.) My mom's out there with you somewhere now. Try to look her up for me and say hi. Her name is Elizabeth Foley, but you probably already know that. I'm returning to Hill 861 this summer, and I plan to make footprints where I did so 32 years ago. I'll be sure to remember you when I stand very close to where we both knelt over three decades ago. Dennis
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POSTED ON 5.27.1999
POSTED BY: Michael Robert Patterson

In Honored Remembrance

From a press report:Thursday, May 27, 1999

The last time anyone saw the chaplain and his aide alive
was on an airstrip in Khe Sanh. As they came under
attack from the North Vietnamese army, they waved off a
helicopter set to take them away and prepared instead to
do their jobs.

For three long months during the Vietnam War, Chaplain
Robert Brett, 33, and Private First Class Alexander Chin,
a 23-year-old Marine, had forged a close partnership,
scrambling through neck-high elephant grass and
foxholes, dodging bullets and mortar shells as they
ministered to frightened Marines.

This time, the lightning-fast rocket attack on the landing
strip took their lives. And their story might have ended on
that February day in 1968, in the hilltop trench where
their mangled bodies were pulled from the shrapnel and
debris and shipped home.

But yesterday they were reunited in Arlington National
Cemetery, buried side by side under a bright sky on
Chaplain's Hill.

At the behest of Brett's family and with the permission of
Chin's relatives, Chin's body was removed from his
family plot in the town of Princess Anne on Maryland's
Eastern Shore and reinterred next to the man he vowed
to serve.

About 60 relatives, fellow Vietnam veterans and military
officials gathered for the ceremony. Navy Rear Admiral
Barry C. Black, deputy chief of chaplains, told Chin's
family and friends that their Marine was a "spiritual hero."

Chin, family members say, was deeply religious and, after
several months of combat, told his commanders in
Vietnam that he could no longer kill the nemy. Instead of
a court-martial, relatives said, Chin was given a job
protecting and assisting Brett.

"He said, 'I won't take a life, but I'll put my life on the line
for another,' " Black said, as six Marines held a flag
above Chin's coffin. "Alexander laid down his life. It was
love's crowning act."

Family members embraced and sobbed openly as
Marines fired a salute in Chin's honor.

"It's devastating," said Levi Chin, 52, his younger
brother. "It's like reliving his first funeral all over again.
But it's an honor that he's here."

Alexander Chin was in college, studying art, when he
was drafted. Not long after he arrived in Vietnam, he and
Brett became a fixture in the trenches, administering first
aid, comforting Marines on the line and doing
on-the-spot baptisms.

"They were always on the battlefield giving last rites and
dragging the wounded to safer positions," said Larry
Ballard, who served with the men in the 26th Marine
Regiment at Khe Sanh. "They were heroes. They placed
themselves in mortal danger. Both of them."

Jim Leslie, 58, a former Marine captain who served with
Brett and Chin, attended yesterday's ceremony and
remembered Brett for his courage and compassion.

"Chaplain Brett was always there, no matter if there was
shooting or not," Leslie said. The experience, he said,
changed his life. "Some people call it foxhole religion, but
for many of us, it continued forever. Brett was a
brave one. No doubt."

Brett volunteered to go to Vietnam because "he wanted
to help people in dire situations," said his brother, the
Rev. Frank Brett of Norris, Tennessee, who also served
as a chaplain in Vietnam. "My brother went places no one
thought a chaplain would go. Most people wouldsay,
'What are you doing in this Khe Sanh mess?' "

Robert Brett had been in Vietnam for six months when
he and Chin were killed. Marines who witnessed the
attack said the two were about to board a helicopter
when they came under assault. Brett, they said, told the
chopper to take off without them, allowing another man
to go instead.

Several Marines were killed in the attack. At the time,
family members said, Chin had already received three
Purple Hearts and was scheduled to return home. He
was engaged to be married.

"We had a banner stretched outside the door that said,
'Welcome Home, Alex,' " recalled one of Chin's sisters,
Lottie Chin Benyard. "We had saved all his presents from
Christmas, and we were going to celebrate all over again.

Then we got the knock at the door telling us he'd been

Benyard said her family first learned of Chin's heroism
when she was contacted earlier this year by Ballard and
later by Brett's nephew, Edward Rouse. Three decades
ago, Brett had been buried at his mother's request in the
cemetery of the Penndel, Pennsylvania, seminary where
he received his
religious training. His mother died in 1980, and last fall,
Rouse and his family fulfilled their longtime wish to have
Brett's body moved to Arlington National Cemetery.

They felt strongly that Chin should be there, too. So
Rouse hired a private detective, who tracked down
Chin's relatives in the Baltimore area.

Chin "knew his duty was to protect the chaplain, and in
honor of that commitment, I felt it was my duty to bring
him to Arlington for honors and recognition," Rouse
said. "A lot of lies have come out about Vietnam

"This is a story of honor and sacrifice. It would have
been very easy for them, in the face of all that evil, to give
up their belief in God and their dedication to duty in the
face of stress. But neither of them did. I'm proud of both
of them."
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