Air Force vet gives back to other military veterans

By Michael Roemer

norm

Norm Brunkow standing in front of his house in Fall Creek.

 

 

For 50 years the American Legion in Fall Creek has helped military veterans, addressing their needs in many ways. Over the last few decades, Norm Brunkow has played a major role in expanding the American Legion in this small community

“Norm is a really good leader,” Bud Drehmel, an American Legion member said. “He has been with us for a while, so there aren’t many things that he doesn’t know how to do.”

©2015 Michael Roemer Brunkow, 65, has been active in the American Legion since the mid 1980s, but he said that around 1990 he took ,a leadership role in the group. He now is the head of the Fall Creek post.

The American Legion has posts in many cities and towns all across the country and is dedicated to supporting the communities in which they reside. According to Brunkow.

“Our primary goal is to serve the needs of our Veteran’s that reside in our community both young and old,” Brunkow said. “I will be taking a group on Wednesday (Veterans’ Day) to the nursing home to visit with Veteran’s that cannot get out of the house.”

 

 

Brunkow also is in charge of setting up events and fundraisers for the American Legion, in Fall Creek as well as the Chippewa Valley. Events include a broiler fest, multiple parades; discount coupon book drives, and displaying the flag at local football and basketball games.

Brunkow noted that one other special thing that the American Legion is known for is giving each veteran a dignified bu
rial that includes a flag folding and a gun salute.

“It gives me pride to pay respect to fallen soldiers that sacrificed for our country,” Drehmel said.

In addition to the Fall Creek chapter of the American Legion, Brunkow’s wife is also active in the women’s version of the group. Like the men, the women in the American Legion use their meetings to support the wives and also widows of the men in the Legion. They meet once a month and usually have a dinner theme, she said.

Brunkow did his service in the Air Force for four years, but was able to see many countries during that time. Most of his time was spent in Europe, but for the last eight months of his service, Norm was in Vietnam.

When Brunkow returned to home he got a job as a salesman.

“It was not very consistent because business was slow in the winter,” Brunkow said. “Sometimes I wish that I had stayed in the military.”

After being laid off multiple times by his employer, Brunkow decided that he did not want to work for a boss and would rather start his own business. He started a home construction business that he still operates today.

“Most of my work that I do is in Fall Creek, but I do get some business in Eau Claire and Chippewa. I’m always making trips there throughout the week,” he said.

Brunkow said that he was like many typical members in that it took a while for him to want to be involved with the American Legion. Some of that was trying to get settled after returning from war, he said, but once he met some others had joined the American Legion; Brunkow decided that he would give it a try.

“I think that some people when they get back to normal life try to block out what they’ve experienced, but in some cases that is the worst thing that they can do,” Brunkow said.

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