Burroughs Meets an American Hero


photo from WILLIAM BARTNETT ’18

Hallie Williams, Online Editor, Layout Editor

On Friday, November 10, Burroughs students met a true American hero. 92 year-old WWII veteran Joe Brader joined Assembly at the invitation of Matthew Williams ’18 and Jackson Williams ’19, leaders of the American Patriot’s Organization (APO). Both interviewed Brader onstage, discussing his life in the military and WWII, in addition to his Greater St. Louis (GSL) Honor Flight experience.

The GSL Honor Flight mission, according to their Facebook page, aims to “safely transport World War II veterans to see their National World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. Because we are losing 900+ WWII veterans a day, we would like to locate and fly as many of these vets as possible.” Matthew became involved with the GSL Honor Flight organization after his sophomore year, being the youngest guardian to accompany a veteran to Washington DC.

As GSL Honor Flight Youth Board Chair, Matthew was put in charge of bringing WWII and Korean War veterans into St. Louis area high schools. After a successful presentation from veterans at Burroughs last year on Veteran’s Day, the club expanded this year to include the Honor Flight interview, a donut sale, and a meet and greet with Mr. Brader after assembly in Mrs. Marshall’s classroom.

“Even people who weren’t interested in buying donuts came and contributed to our donations jar,” says Jackson, before recounting, “I’m thrilled to have been given the opportunity to be a part of [interviewing Brader] and I hope everyone else enjoyed it as much as I did.”

“The curriculum I have helped design with GSL Honor Flight is called ‘Living History,’” says Matthew. “What it does is allow veterans to get into schools and tell their life stories to high school kids in conjunction with them learning history.  There’s nothing better than meeting history.” Meeting a hero and learning about WWII and D-Day first hand is exactly what Burroughs students did that morning.

Joe Brader joined the Army when he was only 18 years old. He became an Army medic and landed on Utah Beach on D-Day in Normandy, France.  His equipment weighed him down in the water, and he was surrounded by chaos. He says still can’t believe he survived that day. “I should have drowned on D-Day,” the now-92 year old recalls.

Brader was able to come home from the war, though he knew many others who did not.  “I don’t like to even think about some of it, you know, after being through it all,” he says.

Although the memories are tough, Brader always keeps his friends and fallen servicemen and servicewomen in his thoughts every Veterans Day. Brader flies a flag outside his home all year long and continues to volunteer with the GSL Honor Flight organization.

After receiving a standing ovation and seeing a long line of students wanting to thank him for his service and shake his hand, Brader left Burroughs and continued his day with several more events honoring Veterans Day.

While Burroughs students, faculty, and staff have already witnessed an incredible man tell his awe inspiring story, APO has plans to continue to raise money to support Veteran organizations. Both Matthew and Jackson want to continue to bring awareness of veterans to the Burroughs community every way they can.