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Joseph Eugene O'Brien
Captain, United States Marine Corps
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 Joseph Eugene O'Brien, 86, of Madison, Wisconsin

Joseph Eugene O'Brien, age 86, passed away Tuesday, October 10, 2006, at Veteran's Hospital after a brief illness.

Joe was a real individual who had his own way of doing things. He was born and raised in Madison and attended schools at St. Bernard's and at Madison East High School, where he excelled at basketball and won a scholarship to Marquette University, later transferring to the University of Wisconsin in Madison and from which he entered the military service as a Flying Badger Naval Aviation Cadet in June 1942.

After transitioning through pre-flight training at the University of Iowa, primary training at Glenview Naval Air Station, and basic and advanced training at Corpus Christi, Texas, he received his wings and was commissioned as an officer in the Marine Corps on May 1, 1943.

Thereafter, Joe served with distinction as a Marine B 25 pilot in the Southwest Pacific, until shot down over the Pacific after bombing the island of Rabaul. Joe spent the next three months in a South Pacific Hospital recovering from his injuries, and thereafter returned to the United States, where he was retired from active duty and accorded the Purple Heart for Military Merit.

After his return Joe married his long term sweetheart, Bette Fadness, in 1946, raising four wonderful children. Joe was a life-long insurance broker. He loved good food which kept him on a perpetual diet. Travel was one passion, especially to Ireland. Walking the Florida beaches was another. He was an avid Badgers fan and Packer-backer (he'll have a lot to discuss when he finally meets St. Vince Lombardi).

He was preceded in death by his three sisters, Margaret, Eileen and Pat; and by his beloved daughter, Colleen.

He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Bette; his son, David; daughters, Mary Beth of Miami, Florida, and Lou Ann of Bozeman, Montana; 10 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; and five nieces and nephews.

Joe -Uncle Gene- was a cantankerous fellow who loved a good argument. Things will be a lot quieter down here now, but a lot more lively up there. His son David, will miss him and loved him very much in the Lord. Funeral services will be conducted at ST. MARIA GORETTI CHURCH, 5313 Flad Ave., Madison, on Saturday, October 21, 2006, at 11 a.m. Friends may call at the church on Saturday from 10 a.m. until the time of services.

Burial will be held in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia, at a later date. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to Friends of Yahara House, 802 E. Gorham St., Madison, WI 53703.


Captain O'Brien will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full military honors on 25 July 2007.
Posted: 23 July  2007
Purple Heart Medal