Father Denis Edward O’Brien, M.M.
(Maryknoll Missioner)

Father Dennis Edward O'Brien
Spiritual Director, American Life League
October 8, 1923 – August 29, 2002
A Man for All Seasons
Father Denis O’Brien was born in Dallas on October 8, 1923, and entered the seminary in 1941. But when Pearl Harbor was attacked, he quickly volunteered for the Marine Corps.

He served in the Pacific and participated in three campaigns; Café Gloucester, Peleliu and Okinawa. He often recalled the battle to take Peleliu as the bloodiest and most memorable — 1,336 Marines lost their lives and 6,032 were wounded. Later, as chaplain of the First Marine Division, he returned to Peleliu in 1994 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of that battle and to pray for all who died there. They were, as he described them, his brothers and all Marines. He often said, “We never left anyone behind.”

He said it was on that battlefield that he felt God’s call stronger than before. After he left the military service, he went into God’s service by studying at the Maryknoll Seminary in New York.

Father Denis O’Brien went on to be a missionary to the poor, the needy, the terminally ill and the “unwanted” in East Africa and Mexico. Father O’Brien so impressed the leadership of the Mexican bishops’ conference that he was appointed respect life director, a job he performed remarkably for 25 years. He trained doctors, taught medical students, spoke to high school and college groups, trained parents, and did it with a love for human beings and respect for the magisterium of the Church.

Photograph and Biography (Partial) with thanks to the Saint Pius X, Dallas Website

Webmaster’s Note: Information recently received via a 3rd party, (Toni A. Petty from Buffalo, NY – to whom I am indebted) from the administrator of the Catholic Community of Pius X, Dallas, TX, where Father O’Brien lived and worked from 1988 to his death in 2002 advises the following:

Fr. O’Brien used this [What is a Veteran?] and many other writings concerning veterans. The poem you are referring to seems to be the main piece of literature that people refer to. He was always quick to state that he was not the author, but did find the text poignant. I am sorry to say we do not know the original author,

Cordially,
Neely Kerr
Office Manager
August 8, 2005

Webmasters Note: I'm pleased to report that the author of What is a Veteran has been identified as Andrew Barton Hinkle and thus appears on the IWVPA website under his name.

Anthony W. Pahl OAM
IWVPA Webmaster
November 6, 2006