Former Newsmax columnist, Marine Corps hero, and Washington insider Phil Brennan passed away on Monday. He was 87 years old.
Born in New York City, Brennan served with the Marines during World War II before tackling a series of jobs in the nation's capital, beginning with a campaign to win statehood for Alaska.
He served as a liaison between Congressional Republicans and former President Eisenhower. He then served as press secretary for then-Rep. Gerald Ford in the 1960s during his years in Congress.
Brennan went on to Richard Nixon's campaign staff and as director of Public Relations and Special Projects for the Republican Policy Committee.
During the 1960s he also served as Washington correspondent for William F. Buckley's National Review, writing under the name of Cato.
Among his other posts, Brennan worked as an intelligence analyst for the House GOP leadership, served on the draft Barry Goldwater group in 1963, and ran the GOP truth squad for Goldwater the following year.
In 1968, Brennan and his family moved to Florida and he began a career in journalism, first as staff editor for the National Enquirer and later, in the 1990s, as the "Outside the Beltway" columnist for Newsmax Media.
"We lost not only a friend and colleague, but a great American who passionately loved this country," Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax, said.
"Phil personified the very best our nation offers. He had great insight for the millions who read his work, but the backbone of his work was his integrity and a sense of humor," Ruddy added.
Brennan also was editor and publisher of "Wednesday on the Web," which was read in 50 countries around the world, and was editor of his friend Michael Reagan's syndicated newspaper column.
Brennan was named the 2007 Man of the Year by the Defend Our Marines organization in recognition of his work as the only journalist to cover, from the very beginning, the story of the Marines implicated in the 2005 Haditha incident.
Four enlisted Marines were charged with murder after 15 Iraqi civilians and eight insurgents were killed in Haditha, Iraq, following an enemy ambush that killed a member of their unit. Four former officers were charged with dereliction of duty for allegedly failing to investigate the Nov. 19, 2005 engagement.
Brennan termed the charges "trumped-up," and all murder charges were eventually dropped. The only conviction was for one count of dereliction of duty handed down to one of the Marines.
Defend Our Marines stated: "The outstanding individual who deserves the most applause for his defense of our Marines is Phil Brennan of Newsmax.
"It was Phil Brennan who struck back with 'Haditha Accusations Unmasked' and other Newsmax articles that brought much needed perspective and accuracy to the situation.
"Additionally, it was through Phil Brennan's efforts at Newsmax that more than $200,000 was raised for the enlisted Marine defense funds."
Brennan was guest of honor at the Marine Corps Birthday Ball, where Gen. James Mattis said of Brennan: "He is considered a hero in the Marine Corps."
A devout Roman Catholic, Brennan served as a sacristan in his Boca Raton, Fla. parish. He is survived by six of his seven children.
A memorial service will be held on Thursday, Jan. 8, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Babione Funeral Home in Boca Raton, Fla. A memorial Mass will take place on Friday at 12 p.m. at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Boca Raton.
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