A fallen Marine who was a resident of Dutchess County, New York, was remembered during a memorial service Friday in Poughkeepsie.
The remembrance ceremony for Major James Brophy of Staatsburg, or Broph, as his commanding officer called him, drew hundreds to the Majed J. Nesheiwat Convention Center, formerly the Mid-Hudson Civic Center. The 36-year-old Brophy was among five Marines who died in a military plane crash off Japan’s southern coast in December. Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell Maury was Brophy’s commanding officer.
“About as positive an individual you will ever meet,” Lt. Col. Maury said. “He would elevate the mood in the room, and get the very best out of his Marines.”
He went on to describe Brophy’s sense of humor in naming rental vehicles on the day’s schedule after wrestling superstars. Lieutenant Colonel Maury then addressed Brophy’s family.
“I’m devastated to be here in front of you today,” Lt. Col. Maury said. “James was a man who talked about and loved his family dearly. He was a man that loved life and was taken too soon.”
“Everybody loved this guy,” Rolison says. “Apparently, to meet him and to know him was to really just admire him.”
That’s Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison.
“Major Brophy’s dad, Mike, was a 40-year veteran of the City of Poughkeepsie Fire Department who I’ve known for years," Rolison says. "I never met Major Brophy, and I had the opportunity to speak both to his parents about him. And God, he was a wonderful young man who did so much for his family, his wife, two children, living in Japan, serving.”
Michael Brophy called his son a “Renaissance Man” in a statement released by the family. The statement also says, in part, “On behalf of the entire Brophy family, we want to thank all those who have extended their support and prayers. While there are no words to adequately describe James, on attempts to come close — the BEST. James was the best husband, father, son, brother, uncle, marine, and pilot. He loved his family unconditionally and dedicated so much of his time to his two children.”
Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro attended the service.
“Sadly, as a community, we’ve had this kind of loss come home too often, too close. But it is absolutely necessary that, as a county, that Major Brophy’s family knows that we pray for them, we mourn with them and, most importantly, we celebrate his life and his sacrifice,” Molinaro says. “He is an American hero and his legacy ought to be that his family knows his friends, neighbors and community cares for and loves them.”
Brophy was born in Poughkeepsie and grew up in Hyde Park. Childhood friend Peter Matranga said Brophy sought adventure and challenges and encouraged others to do the same. Molinaro says he did not know Major Brophy, but met his family after the tragedy.
“The sense I got about this young American hero is, in many ways, he was like Captain America,” says Molinaro.
Dutchess County has lost at least two other service members during military exercises since 2017. In July 2017, a transport plane based at Stewart Air National Guard base in Newburgh crashed in Mississippi, killing 15 Marines and a Navy sailor. Nine of the 16 service members killed were based at Stewart, including Gunnery Sgt. Brendan Johnson, a Vermont native who lived in Fishkill. And there was a memorial service at the Civic Center, in September 2017, for Petty Officer First Class Corey Ingram of Poughkeepsie. He was among the 10 U.S. sailors killed in August 2017 when a Navy ship collided with an oil tanker off Singapore.
A procession followed the service for Major Brophy, from the convention center to the Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery. The Patriot Guard Riders, requested by the family, were in attendance.