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Honoring Advisors Who Serve(d): Memorial Day, 2018

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This is ThinkAdvisor’s seventh version of the Advisors Who Serve(d) compilation, and this year we highlight the stories, told in their own words, of 11 veterans in the advisory world.

Advisors Who Serve(d) is just that: Financial advisors who have served or are serving in the military. Each of our compilations have debuted over Memorial Day weekend and been repeated on July 4th and Veterans Day. We were reminded, though, in 2017 by a Navy vet that Memorial Day is meant for those who have died in battle not for those who have served and are still alive or for those still serving, which is reserved for Veterans Day and Armed Forces Day, respectively.

ThinkAdvisor initially chose Memorial Day because it’s when most of America focuses on the military and therefore would give the extra attention to what we feel is an important compilation of stories.

Name: David Balmer

Title/Company: Financial Advisor / Edward Jones

Branch: US Air Force

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  2nd Lt, Currently a Major

Service Dates:  1996 to Present

Work you did: F-22 Pilot, F-16 Pilot

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I am currently a Financial Advisor and an Air Force Reservist and I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve in both capacities. Just two weeks ago I was blessed to become the 57th person to accumulate 1,000 flying hours in the F-22. I flew the sortie with a friend of 8 years who reached the milestone on the same day. It was awesome to share that with him but the best part was when we returned to base.

As I flew over the runway, I could see my three little boys watching Daddy fly “his big jet” as they say. When I landed and taxied into the hangar, the three of them were there with their big “bunny ears” on (hearing protection) and they were literally jumping up and down with excitement. As I climbed down the ladder, they rushed to the jet and gave me a bear hug. It was an amazing moment and a wonderful way to celebrate the last 17 years of flying fighter jets. I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given and I hope to leave a legacy of service to my boys.

Name: Bruce T. Brown

Title/Company: Registered Principal, OSJ / Brown & Associates Investment Services

Branch: US Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  2nd Lieutenant / Lt. Colonel

Service Dates:  1975-1995

Work you did: Infantry Officer for 3 years, Personnel Officer for 17 years

Brief story that stands out from your service time: Very proud to have served 7 of the last 8 years of service with the 82nd Airborne Division and XVIII Airborne Corps during Operation Golden Pheasant (Honduras), Operation Just Cause (Panama), Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and the Liberation of Haiti.


Name: Burton Brown

Title/Company: CFP/Partner / Atomi Financial Group, Inc.

Branch: US Marine Corps/US Army Reserve

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  Private – Staff Sergeant

Service Dates:  1995-2004

Work you did: Infantry Rifleman, Marine Security Guard (Embassy Duty), Civil Affairs Operative

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I’m a Marine first and foremost. I served in 1/7, 2/7, and Marine Security Guard Det Hanoi while on Active Duty. I served with the 490th Civil Affairs Bn., in both Kosovo and OIF 1. As a Civil Affairs Operator I supported the Polish/Ukrainian Bn, 10th Mountain, 3rd ID, 101st Airborne while in Kosovo.

While in Iraq I supported USASOC, 1st Marine Division, 2/70th Armor, 3 ID, 3rd ACR, 1st CAV, 1st Armor. My service allowed me to visit 12 countries, participate in 2 conflicts, and lead Marines and Soldiers. It was an awesome responsibility and experience. I still serve leading the South Coast Det #022, Marine Corps League. Having been in the Financial Services during the ’08-’09 crisis, I often joke that I’m a survivor of three wars. I’m truly blessed in life by doing what I love to do; serving others and helping my community.

Name: Rene Bruer

Title/Company: Co-CEO and Financial Advisor/ Smith Bruer Advisors

Branch: US Marine Corps

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  Private and Corporal

Service Dates:  1997- 2001

Work you did: Infantry and Administration

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I had many wonderful leaders in the Marine Corps. What I admired most about my mentor, Master Sgt. Richard St. Amour, was that he led by example. He was a “Marine’s Marine” who worked hard and took care of his family. On top of all of that, he was going to graduate school at night. That stuck with me and motivated me to pursue my goals after the Marine Corps with the same commitment and fervor.

— Check out our special Advisors Who Serve(d) page to read more stories by advisor-veterans.


Name: James Cote

Title/Company: Financial Advisor / Penn Mutual’s Concord Wealth Management

Branch: US Marine Corps USMC

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  Private at Parris Island, and retired as a First Sergeant (E8)

Service Dates:  1975-1995

Work you did: A variety of roles over the years: Administration, Recruiting, General Staff, Training Instructor for an Infantry Regiment, and Infantry First Sergeant

Brief story that stands out from your service time: My upbringing was in a very closed environment of a French Canadian/Irish household in Massachusetts. Joining the Marines opened my eyes to the world. From day one I was meeting and working with other Americans from all over the country and from many ethnicities and demographics. The years I spent in the Marines Corps are irreplaceable and highlighted by the tragedy of the 1983 Beirut bombing of the Marine Barracks. Hundreds of Marines were killed and injured and we mobilized all over the world to deliver comfort to our Marine families.

My role as a Casualty Notification Officer in Massachusetts allowed me to go to my hometown and personalize a national tragedy.  My passion to serve also runs in the family. My daughter, Diane, graduated 32nd out of 1,200 classmates at the Naval Academy, class of 2007, and served as a Nuclear Power Engineer on the USS Enterprise. It was one of two Navy aircraft carriers in the Arabian Sea when Bin Laden was captured. In addition to Diane, I also have three sons who served, Matthew in the Marines, and Martin and Nico, in the Massachusetts National Guard.


Name: Melissa Estrada

Title/Company: Investment Advisor / Miracle Mile Advisors

Branch: US Marine Corps

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  PFC – Sergeant

Service Dates:  2002- 2008

Work you did: Administrative

Brief story that stands out from your service time: There are so many Marines that hold a place in my memories with tremendous admiration. For this reflection, I will recount my first experience with the deepest level of comradery, and the friendliest competition I’ve ever experienced.

In basic training, Recruit Larson and I were determined to graduate with honors. Doing this provided the beautiful dress blue uniform we are so infamous for, and a promotion of one rank, which would have taken each of us to Lance Corporal. We were both stellar recruits, so we would try to push one another into the proverbial line of fire, to see who would slip up, and get punished by our drill instructors first.

During rifle range training, she and I stood across the squad bay trying to make each other laugh as our drill instructor passed. For what seemed like hours standing there, but was more like minutes, we kept our bearing until finally we both lost it. We could not stop laughing at one another. She was caught first, and was being laid into when the drill instructor turned around and saw that I had lost it as well. This did not turn out well for our whole platoon. We spent the evening running up and down four flights of stairs. We had all our possessions, our bedding, our clothing in one pile, in the middle of the squad bay to be separated in record time. She and I were hated that night, but the memory will live on with fondness forever.

Name: Thomas Fogerty

Title/Company: Financial Advisor / Penn Mutual’s Lakeshore Wealth Strategies

Branch: U.S. Navy

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  Ensign at beginning: Lieutenant at end

Service Dates:  1970-1974

Work you did: Deck Officer and Combat Information Center Officer on USS Vega AF 59; Executive Officer and Navigator on USS Atakapa ATF 149

Brief story that stands out from your service time: While steaming from California to the Western Pacific for a seven-month deployment, one of the fresh-out-of-boot camp sailors on board asked one of the old-salts if mail was delivered at sea, as he already missed his girlfriend.

The old-salt chief said “of course it is. There are several 10-foot-tall red, white and blue mail buoys in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Your job, young man, is to stand watch on the bow and notify the bridge of any buoy sightings. Then, the ship will slow down, lower the motor whale boat, grab the mail bag with a bow hook, and motor back to the mother ship.”

The young man could not believe the good news, so he willingly donned the gear required to stand watch for the elusive mail buoy – namely, battle helmet, life vest, bow hook, foul weather gear, binoculars, and a headset to communicate status checks to the bridge every 15 minutes. Of course, having the captain and everyone else play along made it even more fun. Ah, yes, our tax dollars at work.

— Check out our special Advisors Who Serve(d) page to read more stories by advisor-veterans.


Name: Chad Feucht

Title/Company: President & CEO / Feucht Financial Group LLC

Branch: US Air Force and USAFR

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  2nd Lt at beginning, Lt Colonel at retirement

Service Dates:  1991 – 2016

Work you did: F-16 and F-22 Pilot / Commander of the 477th OSF

Brief story that stands out from your service time: One moment that I will never forget is serving in Iraq during the 2007 surge in operations. It is memorable due to the courage and professionalism of the 457th Fighter Squadron, with whom I served, and especially memorable because I was able to work with my brother who was serving in the Army at the same place and the same time.


Name: Jeremy Feucht

Title/Company: President & CEO / Feucht Financial Group LLC

Branch: US Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  Lieutenant — Captain

Service Dates:  1998 – 2007

Work you did: Company Commander

Brief story that stands out from your service time: Proud to have served with some of the greatest guys on Earth.


Name: Ann Konasiewicz Title/Company: Regional Leader / Primerica

Branch: US Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  Private to SP4

Service Dates:  1976-1978

Work you did: Fort Ord, Calif.

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I entered the service under the Stripes for Skills program. Upon arriving at Boot Camp we were surprised to know our group was selected to be the first group of women in the regular Army, trained for hand to hand combat, not the WACS. The Drill Sergeants did not know how to handle the women, as we kept getting over on them. So they brought over the female Drill Sergeants to help out. Many women fell out and I am honored to say I was among the handful that passed. Because of my skills I ran an office with the MSG and Colonial. I was honored with letters of recommendation upon exit. The Army was a GREAT education in which I learned I had a strength I never knew I had. I am honored to be a US Army Veteran!


Name: David Murphy

Title/Company: Head of Wealth Advisory / Boston Private

Branch: U.S. Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  Private / Colonel

Service Dates:  1979 – 2012

Work you did: Various

Brief story that stands out from your service time: September 2009 there was a report of an airmen and a soldier injured by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) just west of Camp Leatherneck in the Southern Helmand Province of Afghanistan. As we were conducting a briefing, we were notified of a “ramp call,” which is shorthand for when a service member has been killed and their remains are about to be begin the journey back home at the airfield ramp.

Close to 100 of us stopped what we were doing and traveled to the airfield where a C-130 aircraft was at the ramp and had lowered the tailgate off the back end of the aircraft. The plane’s engines were running to begin a quick take off, just in case mortars started to come in. The only illumination was the dusty glow of a small interior light, which was shining brightly on the American flag in the cargo bay. Two field ambulances pulled up and we all lined up to face one another creating a corridor for our fallen brother or sister to pass, where we all would render a hand salute.

Across from me was Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant. She was all of five feet tall, greying hair visible around her temples and her hair pulled back in a tight regulation bun. In the sweltering 100 degree heat, she bent over and began adjusting her utility uniform, attempting to smooth out the wrinkles. The message was clear and the rest of us followed her lead and did our best to brush of the dust, smooth out the wrinkles, to be presentable to our fallen comrades.

Both of the service members were respectfully removed from the ambulances on stretchers with American flags draped over their wounded bodies. There was one service member holding the stretcher in the front, and another in the rear, holding their fallen bodies as we listened to the Chaplin bless them with words that would never be adequate. At the conclusion of his remarks, we all came to attention and both fallen soldiers passed through the human corridor as we rendered our salutes. The airman and soldier were placed inside the aircraft beneath the American flag, where a service member would never leave their side until they were peacefully returned to their loved ones. We stood there, in the sweltering heat in salute until the plane had lifted off and was no longer visible.

Here’s is to the one percent that write a blank check to serve, and if necessary go into harm’s way, hoping the check is never cashed. That’s my why.

— Check out our special Advisors Who Serve(d) page to read more stories by advisor-veterans.


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