OBITUARY

Bradley Arnold Westerdahl

May 2, 1928April 9, 2018
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It is with heavy hearts that the family of Bradley Arnold Westerdahl (MSgt, USMC Retired) completed his tour of duty on this earth, passing away peacefully April 9, 2018 at the age of 89 in Raleigh, NC.

Brad was born in Moline, IL to the late Arnold and Lina Westerdahl. He entered his beloved Marine Corps during World War II and remained on active duty until 1968 and remained in the reserves until 1975.

Brad served in many capacities during his military career. He was wounded in combat at the Chosin Reservoir in December 1950 and later returned to Korea for a second tour. He also served two tours in Vietnam. Brad was especially proud of being a member of several Marine Corps rifle teams and being awarded the coveted Marine Corps Distinguished Marksman Badge, as well as his duty in Intelligence and as a Marine sniper. He was also a member of HMX-1 Squadron that flew the president. During his military career Brad was awarded the Bronze Star and The Navy Commendation Medal, both with Combat V and the Combat Action ribbon, and a Purple Heart. To him the Marine Corps was not a job but a way of life.

After his retirement from the Marine Corps, Brad worked as an intelligence analyst with the Army Foreign Science and Technology Center in Charlottesville, VA until his retirement from civilian service in 1989. In 1997 Brad and his beloved wife Ann relocated to Raleigh, NC.

Brad enjoyed many activities, to include photography to capture family memories, gardening, landscaping, trips to Las Vegas and Cherokee, and sporting events (especially the Washington Redskins and NCAA March Madness).

Brad also enjoyed spending time with all of his family--children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and other extended family members. They all held a very special place in his heart and in his words, "he adored them all." He was a very loving and caring person and will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

He was predeceased by his loving wife of 68 years, Ann. He is survived by daughters, Susan Gordon (Greg) of Earlysville, VA, Jeanette Chorpenning (Brent) of Raleigh, Lee Acosta (Joe Mazzaglia) of Garner; grandchildren, Brad Olson (Rachel), Allicia Giuseppe (Adam Meuse), Blakely Chorpenning (Sean Edgecombe), Brook del Valle (Brian); great-grandchildren, Zora, Naomi, Ellys, McKenzie, Devin, and Jaxon. He is also survived by his sister, Linda Kelly of Republic, MO. He is predeceased by his sister Chloe Peterson.

Brad always said his life was quite a ride with a big cloud of dust. What a ride he had!

All Brad ever asked of his family is to forever remember him as loving them all.

Brad and his beloved wife, Ann, are reunited, and will have their ashes buried together at Quantico National Cemetery. Services to be held in Raleigh will include a visitation on April 22, 2018 from 1-2 pm at Mitchell Funeral Home (7209 Glenwood Avenue), with a memorial service at 2:00pm in the funeral home chapel. A reception will follow the service.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be to the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, Dumfries, VA or St. Joseph's Indian School P.O. Box 100, Chamberlain, SD 57325-0100.

Services

  • Visitation Sunday, April 22, 2018
  • Memorial Service, with Reception to Follow Sunday, April 22, 2018
REMEMBERING

Bradley Arnold Westerdahl

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Janet and Thomas Woods

April 16, 2018

Dear Susan and family,

We have fond memories of Brad and our work with him at FSTC. Please know that we are thinking of you all and will keep you in our prayers. What a wonderful life he had with his family.

Chuck Langham

April 15, 2018

I worked with Brad at FSTC for many years, in the office right next to mine. He was a pleasant and conscientious guy, easy to work with, kept away from office politics and just did his job well. We used to talk about sports and his Marine experiences. He was very proud of his Marine services, and I am sure he was a top-notch NCO. We used to joke a little about my Army service, which involved just paperwork and never any danger, while he saw lots of action! I cannot recall ONE unpleasant thing about Brad, and when you work with somebody so long, that is rare. I am glad that he had a long life and much time to spend with his beloved family, although with somebody like him, there is never enough time.

Sherrill Stramara

April 15, 2018

Dear Susan and family,
We are sorry to hear of Brad's passing. Our prayers are with you during this difficult time.
Sherrill and Bob Stramara

FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY
FROM THE FAMILY

Biography

Brad was a man with strength of mind and spirit. He lived a life of bravery and heroism and gave love and generosity to his family and friends. He was admired and respected by all who knew him. We will always remember him and miss him, yet continue to believe in the faith he showed all of us - to God and country. As difficult as it is to lose a loved one, we are comforted by the fact that he is now reunited with the love of his life and wife of 68 years, Ann. Knowing that they are together once again watching over us will bring us all comfort. They always said some of their happiest memories were in Quantico, Virginia, and requested their ashes be buried together at Quantico National Cemetery. We will all cherish our memories of a lifetime of love. He always said his life was quite a ride with a big cloud of dust. What a ride he had! He was a great man who was truly loved and will be missed.

Brad (Wes) completed his tour of duty on this earth, passing away peacefully April 9, 2018, at the age of 89 in Raleigh, North Carolina.
He was born on May 2, 1928 in Moline, Illinois, in Moline Public Hospital. He was the oldest of three children born to Arnold and Lina Westerdahl. His mother worked for Consumer's as a bookkeeper, which was just a few blocks from the National Licorice Factory where his father worked.

His Mother, Lina Mae Dixson, had lived in Rock Island, Illinois, with a large family history based in Ottumwa, Iowa. His Father, Oscar Arnold Westerdahl, was born in Moline three months after his parents arrived from the area around Ustad-Malmo Sweden. He use to joke about being made in Sweden and born in the USA. They arrived with four additional children as well. Arnold had an 8th grade education, and came from a large Swedish immigrant family drawn to Moline by John Deere himself, to work in the factories. Arnold had been offered a job at Deere, but ended up at the licorice factory as the supervisor of the "cook room." Over Brad's first years, his sister Chloe was born, and due to income they had to move to several apartments and houses, and also shared life with Brad's Westerdahl grandparents, Maria and Nels. Several of Arnold's brothers were near Brad's age, along with cousins, and friends. It's our understanding that they developed a pattern of searching and investigating neighborhoods and woods. So, lots of "getting into mischief" was the story. Along the way, the family had a dog - a great companion - named Toby.

During this time, both Brad and Chloe would spend time with the Dixson grandparents, Sadie and Bert. They were avid fishermen and both siblings spent lots of time at the rivers in Moline. Brad also had a best friend named Benny Roberts. There were also visits with family in Ottumwa, Iowa, where the family farms were still active. Country life just wasn't what Brad liked, with out-houses and rural people. Brad told stories of hay lofts, stern people, and sustenance farmers. As years have gone by, family there still remember those days with Brad and Chloe with laughs and smiles.

As a small child he had beautiful blond curls, but when he was two years old he came down with rheumatic fever and lost all of his hair. Even though he was so young he remembered their house being quarantined and sleeping on a cot on the porch during the winter because he had such a high fever. Both of his parents contributed the breaking of his high fever to a chiropractor who came to the house and "worked on him".

Brad was in the Boy Scouts. He attended Lincoln grade school in Rock Island, Illinois, John Deere Junior High in Moline, and Moline Senior High where he played football.

Brad enlisted in his beloved Marine Corps in Chicago during WWII at the age of 17 and remained on active duty for 30 years, retiring in 1968 with the rank of MSGT. He remained in the reserves until 1975. In his Marine Corps days he was called "Wes." He served numerous tours at posts and stations around the USA and the world including Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, Central America, Hawaii, Japan, Laos, Thailand, Okinawa, Vietnam, Camp Lejeune, Camp Pendleton, and Quantico. During his military career he served in many capacities. He served two tours of duty in Korea, 1950-51 and 1953-55 and both times he served with an infantry battalion. He was wounded in combat at the Chosin Reservoir in December 1950 and later returned to Korea for a second tour. He also served two tours in Vietnam. He was especially proud of being a member of various Marine Corps Rifle Teams, shooting in competitions representing the Marine Corps and being awarded the coveted "Marine Corps Distinguished Marksman Badge," as well as his duty in Intelligence and as a Marine sniper. He was also a member of the HMX-1 Helicopter Squadron that flew the president. During his military career he was awarded the Bronze Star and the Navy Commendation Medal, both with Combat V and the Combat Action ribbon, and a Purple Heart for wounds received at the Chosin Reservoir. To him the Marine Corps was not a job--it was a way of life.

At the end of WWII he was stationed at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, where he met the love of his life and wife of 68 years, Ann Lee Coggins. Ann lived and worked in Baltimore, Maryland, and for Brad it was love at first sight. He asked her several times to marry him and was turned down repeatedly. He finally gave up and returned to Annapolis heartbroken. Late one night, about two weeks later, a fellow Marine told Brad there was a woman in a Baltimore cab outside the barracks wanting to see him. When he approached the cab, the window rolled down and Ann looked out and told him "I've changed my mind." She rode 35 miles in a cab just to tell him that she would marry him. They were married in Baltimore two weeks later on June 30, 1947. Within a few months of getting married they were stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Shortly after finding out that Ann was pregnant he deployed to the Mediterranean. Six months later when he returned home from his deployment Ann and four-month old Susan were waiting for him in their trailer at Camp Lejeune where they stayed until June 1950 when the Korean War started.

He was a Sergeant with the 4th and 6th Marine Regiments at Camp Lejeune from 1947 to 1950. During this period much of his time was spent at the rifle range training and shooting competitively in the Marine Corps rifle matches. After winning a Gold medal at the South Eastern Divisional Matches at Camp Lejeune he went on to compete in the Marine Corps matches at Quantico, where he won a Bronze medal and was selected for the Marine Corps National Rifle Team. It was an honor to be chosen as only 20 men were selected to represent the Corps. Later, in 1952, he won a Silver Medal and was awarded the coveted “Distinguished Marksman Badge.” He was with the team in California when the Korean War started. The team was disbanded and they were ordered back to their units, which for Brad was the Sixth Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune. In August 1950 he was one of the Marines ordered to be the nucleus of the Seventh Marine Regiment for the 1st Marine Division which was based at Camp Pendleton, California. He was an Intelligence Scout/Sniper with the Intelligence Section (S-2) of the 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment (2/7). On September 1, 1950, his ship, APA BAYFIELD, APA-5, departed San Diego headed for Kobe, Japan, and then on to Inchon. He participated in the landings at Inchon, the Battle for the City of Seoul, the Chosin Reservoir Campaign, and the Spring and Summer fighting in Eastern and Central Korea. During the next year his section of 24 Marines had two men killed in action (KIA) and 16 wounded in action (WIA). Only six men came out unscathed and unfortunately he wasn't one of them. He served his second tour of duty in Korea as the Intelligence Chief of the Third Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment.

After retiring from the Marine Corps, Brad worked as an Intelligence Analyst for the US Army Foreign Science & Technology Center in Charlottesville, Virginia, for 21 years, retiring from civilian service in 1989.

Brad and Ann relocated to Raleigh, North Carolina, in 1998. They enjoyed getting reacquainted with Ann's brother, Jack Coggins, and many other relatives in the Raleigh area, including their two daughters Jeanette and Lee, their grandchildren, and several nieces and nephews nearby.

In retirement the thing he enjoyed most was spending time with all of his family -- children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nephews, nieces, and other extended family members. He loved family gatherings and being a part of all our lives whether it was watching the kids playing sports, school activities, or just enjoying life. It didn't matter what the event was, he was always there taking pictures capturing all the memories of the moment. If you ever needed anything you could count on him to be there for you. To him family was everything. They all held a very special place in his heart and in his words, "he adored them all."

He loved spending time working in his yard and took great pride in how beautiful it always looked. To him it was a form of relaxation. He really enjoyed his trips to Las Vegas and Cherokee with family. He especially enjoyed the shows and slot machines. His last trip to Las Vegas was in December 2017. He went with Susan and Greg to see Reba, Brooks & Dunn in concert and afterwards he couldn't stop talking about it. He said it was the best concert he had ever seen. He always enjoyed watching sporting events. His favorite football team was the Washington Redskins, and he would always root for the Virginia Tech college football team because his granddaughter Brook and son-in-law Greg had gone there. During NCAA March Madness he was glued to the TV. Before he retired from work he would take the whole week off just so he could watch the tournament.

After his retirement from the military he and Ann were constant companions. When she fell ill and required constant care over the last five years of her life he insisted she stay at home so he could help care for her. On their wedding day they had made a promise to each other "To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, 'til death do us part," and no matter how difficult it was at times he was determined to keep that promise to her and care for her at home. She had stood by him during his 30 years of military service, basically raising three daughters by herself (not an easy job) -- after all, he was the "love of her life." They continued to be constant companions until her passing on May 2, 2015. After surviving WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, losing his beloved wife was the one battle from which he never recovered. He pushed on, soldiered through, but was heartbroken and a bit lost without her, as we all were. Their love and devotion to each other was unsurpassed. They were the perfect example of true love -- something to aspire to.

All Brad ever asked of his family is to forever remember him as loving them all. He was a remarkable man who lived a remarkable life and will be greatly missed by all who knew him. We will be forever grateful for all the sacrifices he made during his lifetime for loved ones and country, and thankful that he was a part of our lives. We will forever cherish our memories of him and remember him always for the hero he was to our family and to our country.

He was predeceased by his loving wife of 68 years, Ann. He is survived by daughters, Susan Gordon (Greg) of Earlysville, VA, Jeanette Chorpenning (Brent) of Raleigh, Lee Acosta (Joe Mazzaglia) of Garner; grandchildren, Brad Olson (Rachel), Allicia Giuseppe (Adam Meuse), Blakely Chorpenning (Sean Edgecombe), Brook del Valle (Brian); great-grandchildren, Zora, Naomi, Ellys, McKenzie, Devin, and Jaxon. He is also survived by his sister, Linda Kelly of Republic, MO, and numerous nieces and nephews. He is predeceased by his sister Chloe Peterson.

* Perhaps they are not the stars, but rather openings in Heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy. *