Lt. Col. Donald O. Brazeal, USMC passed away on April 23, 2008. Don made his worldly debut on September 29, 1917 in Newport Indiana, the 4th of 6 children born to Franklin Ray Brazeal and Ivy May Aston. Don’s father passed away on his 6th birthday, leaving all 6 siblings to be raised by their mother during economic times that were very difficult.
Don never had a girlfriend until the day he met Barbara Jeanne Ewbank. Jeanne lived in the neighboring town of Cayuga Indiana. When she first laid eyes on Don, she asked a friend, “Who is that handsome guy?” And, when told that he lived in the next town over, she said, “Well, I’m going to marry him!” And, that’s just what she set out to do!
After high school, Jeanne moved to Chicago to attend college. Don and a friend went to Chicago to visit Jeanne, or at least that was their original intent. Instead, on January 10, 1937, both friends enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. After Marine Corps boot camp, and time spent aboard ship, Don returned to Chicago and was stationed at the main U. S. Post Office as a Marine Corps Recruiter.
Don and Jeanne dated for several years and on October 7, 1939, Don married the love of his life. In the early 1940s, Don’s Marine Corps buddies entered him into a contest where he was voted “The Ideal Marine.” As a result of his new title, he was awarded several different photographic modeling contracts. During 1942 and 1943, Don’s pictures could be found in many, many major U.S. Magazines (i.e., Life; Look; Saturday Evening Post; National Geographic, etc.) Don was the handsome Marine dressed in his uniform and modeling full page advertisements for such companies as Coca Cola, Rit Dye, Mars Candy Bars, RCA Victor, Sonora Recorder (a forerunner of the tape recorder), He received $5 every time he got another modeling contract. He would then call Jeanne and tell her he had $5 and to call their friends, because he was taking them all out to dinner!!
Many newspapers in the United States ran stories about “That Handsome Back of the Magazine Cover Marine” and he was even written up in lots of the newspaper “gossip columns” of the times. Don’s historic Coca Cola advertisements are now featured in the Coca Cola Hall of Fame in Atlanta Georgia, and in several books produced about Coca Cola’s advertisements (one of them is entitled “Coke Goes to War”).
Don attended the Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia in 1943, graduating as a Second Lieutenant. He always laughed later, stating that he’d had a higher rank as an enlisted man than he had after he became a 2nd Lt.
Don‘s company was among the first wave of U.S. Marines to land on the beach at Iwo Jima. Dad was always proud to say that he watched both flags being raised over Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi. The first flag was raised when the Marines captured Suribachi. The second flag was raised as a staged setting for Ira Rosenthal’s famous Pulitzer Prize winning photo.
Following World War II, Don remained a First Lt. in the inactive Reserves until he was called back as a Captain to serve during the Korean Conflict. Don’s last two duty stations were at the Navy Annex of the Pentagon where he served as Head of Logistics for the entire Marine Corps Reserve. He then transferred to the Marine Corps Air Reserve where he served as Head of Logistics for the entire Marine Corps Air Reserve. Don retired from the Marines in 1963 as a Lt. Colonel. He then went on to perform civilian work for the U.S. Postal Service, after which he once again retired and he and Jeanne moved to Clovis, California.
If you visit the Big Creek Museum in Clovis, you will find a display based upon the military service of Lt. Col. Brazeal. The Library of Congress also has documentation based upon his career. Don was an active member of the Cecil Cox American Legion Post in Clovis. He was also a member of the Retired Officers’ Association.
Don is survived by his wife of 70+ years, Jeanne Brazeal, who resides at Orchard Park Assisted Living in Clovis. He is also survived by daughters Dyanna (Glenn) Matthews; Marilyn (Robert) Garcia; Peggy (David) DelCastello; Marsha (Mark) Steinhauer; Debbie (Michael) Diehl; and son, Donald (Irma) Brazeal, Jr. He is additionally survived by 12 grandchildren, and 8 great grand children.
Lt. Col. Brazeal will be buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington Virginia, at a future date to be announced by the family.
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