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Fifty years on: Jim Brumm, Journalist First Class

Half a century after his discharge from eight years service with the US Navy, former Reuters journalist Jim Brumm has joined a veterans group and remembered how he made the transition from the military to civilian life.

"There was nothing special about my mid-August 1967 journey home - a flight from Da Nang, Vietnam to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. I was lucky. My bride was there to meet me without our two boys," he recalled.

“The welcome home from friends and family was like that received by GIs returning since the Spanish American War.”

In the navy, Brumm was officially rated JO1 - Journalist First Class. Weeks after his discharge, he got a job with Dow Jones and later worked for Reuters as a financial reporter in New York. He joined in January 1972 but didn’t stay long, leaving in April to work for oil, gas and energy publications. He returned to Reuters at 1700 Broadway, Manhattan in September 1979. He helped to establish the energy desk and also worked on the equity desk before taking a buy-out at the end of 2001.

Brumm’s 50-year journey since his naval discharge was one illustration of the theme of this year's Veterans Day parade in Wilmington, North Carolina, where he now lives: A Long Overdue Welcome Home for Vietnam Veterans. 

When he returned from Vietnam there were no invitations to join the Veterans of Foreign Wars or American Legion “and a wall of indifference” when he brought up the subject with members he knew.  

“It was a quarter century before I was approached by either of those groups about joining. By then my own shell of indifference rejected those as insincere.  

“I had ‘gotten past' veterans groups to the extent I never looked into the Vietnam Veterans of America, whose slogan - Never again will one generation of Veterans abandon another - described my feelings well.”  

Late last year, his daughter picked up a Vietnam Veteran hat at a fundraiser and he got it as a Christmas present. 

This year, he signed up as a Vietnam Veteran - in time to learn about the parade and its message of welcome.

“One result, I participated (I can't march any more) in a Veterans Day parade for the first time since 1959 when I carried a tuba as a member of the Naval Aviation Cadet band in Birmingham, Alabama.”

PHOTO: Jim Brumm with monsoon mud-covered boots at Seabee supply yard, Red Beach north of Da Nang in January 1967. ■