Wayne Veteran Recalls His Service To His Country And That Of His Late Wife
By Steve Sears
It’s a story of love, for country and each other.
Sixty three year old David Brink enjoyed a career at Hewlett-Packard as a senior consultant until early retirement. After that, he did government contract work in the Washington, D.C. area supporting the Intelligence Community.
However, perhaps this all pales compared to his service as a Sergeant E-5 in the United States Army, and the reason is two-fold. Not only was he a MOS (Military Occupational Specialty) as a 98C = Electronic Warfare Signal Intelligence Analyst, but he also met the love of his life shortly after enlisting.
Brink served from 1977 – 1980, and his military training included the United States Air Force School of Applied Cryptologic Sciences in Goodfellow AFB, Texas, and Mission training with the Green Beret in Fort Devens of Massachusetts.
“I gleaned intelligence from ‘beeps and squeaks’ in the air waves to help protect our country, its allies, and our troops,” he says, recalling his military days. His skills aided all of the armed forces. “I’m not sure across other specialties, but I know in the intelligence community there’s a lot of collaboration that starts with training, and that may depend on how things are divided for whether it makes sense, whether another branch of service has a facility or another method that could be used. But for me, it was common when I served in Korea [a one-year tour of mission in DMZ area, based at Camp Casey] everything that I saw was Army, but everything that I reported back to the U.S. I know was put together, let’s say, with intelligence of other sources: the agencies, and other intelligence agencies and branches of service. And I didn’t have any vision into that. I just knew that what I was feeding was being provided as one stream into a much bigger pool.”
Military service runs in his family, which is sometimes the case. Brink’s Dad was a Navy man, his older sister was an Army nurse, and her husband is a retired Army Medivac pilot.
Brink’s wife, Karen, with whom he had two daughters, passed away from colon cancer in 2013. She concurrently served in the Army with her husband and was an Operating Room Technician at Ft. Belvoir in Virginia. Both voluntarily enlisted, and met at the Fair Lawn recruiting station.
“We had both been there individually; we didn’t know one another,” he said. “It was about this time of year, maybe November, and for a group of us that had signed the papers to go in but had signed the papers to go in after the first of the year – for me it was the beginning of March – there was a holiday party for those of us going in. I met her at the recruiting station at that holiday party.”
Was it love at first sight?
“So, to speak, and it was like, ‘You know, I’m going to be around a couple of months…I have a friend who’s entering that may have something in common,”’ he explains. “We both went in to serve our country. I’m glad I did it, and she the same, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made in my life, and to take the opportunity while I was young and able to serve, I’m proud of it. It has served me well.”
Brink, a member of Preakness Reformed Church in Wayne, is very devoted to the American flag.
“This (the flag) is probably special for all military and veterans because as part of our training and conditioning, it is all the things – strength, pride, never give up, anything for the country, if your ever need to give your life for your country or your fellow soldier – all of those things definitely rings true of the representation of your country is the flag,” he explains. “When someone disrespects the flag, for me I’ll say for sure and I believe for many veterans, we take it as an insult to our country, a disrespectful hit to our country, and even though they may be doing it for different reasons, that’s what it means for us.”
Two years ago, Brink, who volunteers regularly working with others at his church, was asked to speak about stewardship at a Sunday service. During the service, he brought a tattered, weather-beaten flag, up to his speaking spot at the pulpit, eventually telling attendees that the flag was removed from the flagpole outside the church, and since the church had been encouraging a Thanksgiving and Pay it forward theme, he spoke with his two daughters and brought another flag to replace the spent one, and hung it on the flagpole, but told no one where it came from. Where did the new flag come from? It was his father’s burial flag. And he had two more flag’s ready behind his dad’s: His and his wife’s. His dad’s flag just came down, his wife’s flies now, and he said, “The third flag will be mine. My daughters will deliver it to you.”
For Brink, his stewardship is his service, and the start and stripes mean just that. “I want the flag to be shown, I want it to be visible, and I know it has special meaning, and I know that it can be kept in a nice triangular case, but my choice was to put it up where everybody can see it,” he says.
Brink was awarded two Sharpshooter Qualification Badges, and a U.S. Army Security Agency, Certificate for Diligence and Determination, and Department of the Army, Certificate for Diligence, Devotion, and Exemplary Contribution.
He survived the army and also surviving a rare blood cancer called Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia (273.3). Diagnosed in 2004, in October 2013 he had a Stem Cell Transplant to install a new immune system.
“I grew up,” Brinks says, “I had a chance to serve my country. So, when patriotism is mentioned, people can be patriotic in all different ways. For me, one of the bigger ways was being given the opportunity – because some people are not able to – to serve, and that is what I did, that’s what my wife did, and for the same reason.”