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While Jack was serving aboard an aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam, his skipper’s plane was shot down. After ejecting, his skipper was captured and spent six years in a POW camp.
When the POW was released, there was a celebration. The officer made a special point to invite Senior Chief Brown. The two men stood together as Shipmates. That’s when the Skipper told the audience, “Because of this man – my parachute rigger – my chute opened after I ejected. Jack, you saved my life.”
The two men toasted each other, two warriors, and two patriots showing their respect for each other. “It was a very special memory for him,” said Virginia Humphries, Jack’s sister.
The Senior Chief corked that bottle and put it away for a few years. When he retired from the Navy, Brown invited his former skipper to the retirement ceremony. Out came that very same bottle, and the Shipmates raised their glasses again, each honoring the other’s patriotism and dedication to the Navy.
Shortly after Brown’s wife passed away, his sister’s husband also passed away. The siblings decided to “see America,” Humphries said. They traveled thousands of miles together in a motor home. “My brother regaled me with hours of stories about his life in the Navy. Honor, duty and service above all – that’s who my brother was.”
“He joined the Navy right before his 18th birthday.” Said Humphries. “Our father was in the Navy, and all our uncles served in the Navy during World War II,” she said. “Joining the Navy was something our family did.”
Jack served two tours in Vietnam. He was stationed in Adak, Alaska, and served aboard USS Independence (CV-62), and USS Enterprise (CV-6). His ship was in the Middle East in 1967 around the time of the six Day War between Israel and neighboring Arab states.
“For Jack, it was an honor to serve his country,” Humphries said. “We were raised in a family that emphasized love of country, democracy, individuals, and American exceptionalism. For us, it was just part of life, and that’s what we did.”
Throughout his Navy career, Senior Chief Brown knew about and respected the work the Society does for Sailors, Marines, and their families in need. “That’s why he designated the NMCRS a beneficiary of his estate. He had such a heart to help people in the military,” Humphries said. “That was always his passion. He loved this country and he believed in helping military families. As his trustee, I’m honored to send this generous gift to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society. My brother’s legacy of commitment to Sailors, Marines and their families will continue for years to come.”
For much of that time, Roberta volunteered with the Society, and even today, she and Brad are active volunteers in the Society’s San Diego, CA office.
That’s why it was heartwarming when the couple recently gave a legacy gift to the Society. The Wynnes’ act of generosity will make a difference for Sailors and Marines and their families for years to come. It will be their legacy.
“We’ve always been Society supporters,” Roberta said. “I think the Society uses donors’ money wisely and provides great service that is highly needed.”
“This is a wonderful gift they’ve given, and it’s even more special in how they funded it,” said Kate Hillas, NMCRS Director of Planned Giving.
While the Wynnes were stationed in Hawaii, their daughter Mindi was born. A friend suggested to Brad that he invest early for her education. He took the advice. “But when Mindi went to college,” Brad said, “we had other resources for her education, so that pot of money was still sitting in our investment account.”
But there’s still more to the story.
Years later, Roberta’s mother passed away with wishes that part of her estate be donated to charity. Roberta knew just the one. “I’d recruited my mom as a Society volunteer,” she said, smiling. “She crocheted baby blankets for the Budget for Baby program, and she was very impressed with the Society.”
So Brad and Roberta combined the college savings and a part of the estate to fund a charitable gift annuity with the Society, connecting their family through their generosity.
“For me, it’s giving back,” Brad said.
The Wynnes have always felt that Brad’s Navy career shaped their family because they got the opportunity to live all over the world.
It broadened the whole family’s outlook. And after college, Mindi joined the U.S. Air Force.
“I had a very good career,” Brad said. “The Navy even prepared me for jobs I had after I retired. This gift demonstrates our commitment and respect for the Society and the U.S. Navy.”
Kuras has always made monthly contributions to the Society from his retirement pay, but recently decided to make a larger gift in the form of a charitable gift annuity. This type of gift was a way for him to support the Society, get a charitable tax deduction, and receive income for the rest of his life. The Society will use the remainder of his gift to assist Sailors and Marines when the annuity ends. As a result of his generous gift, the Society has welcomed Kuras into the Clarence Dillon Society, an honorary organization for donors who have chosen to make the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society a beneficiary of their estate.
“Everyone has a favorite charity,” explained Kuras. “Mine has always been the Navy- Marine Corps Relief Society. They supported me when I needed them, and I’m in a position now where I can support them.”
The Society is grateful for the thoughtful generosity of Sgt Kuras and the 102 other members of the Clarence Dillon Society who have made plans for estate gifts in support of Sailors, Marines and their families.
Over her 21-year career, along with receiving her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, Yellig served as a flight nurse and was stationed at various naval hospitals and clinics around the world. Her overseas tours included Hawaii and Japan, caring for Soldiers and Marines returning from Korea and later, Vietnam. She lived and married in San Diego, retiring from Balboa Naval Hospital. After enjoying a brief seven year retirement, Yellig and her late husband, HMCS Raymond Yellig, moved to Indiana to help run a family business, – Santa Claus Land – where her father-in-law was the original beloved Santa Claus (see photo below) until he died at 80 years.
Yellig said she was motivated to create a charitable gift annuity with the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society because “the Navy was very good to me. I received more education than I ever dreamed possible, traveled all over the world, met fascinating people and made life-time friendships. Now it’s my turn to pay it back.”
Thank you, Commander Yellig, for continuing to take care of Sailors, Marines and their families!