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Brewington's duties included atomic cleanup
Veteran Earnie Brewington.jpg
First Sgt. Ernie Brewington holds a copy of “From Service to Sacrifice." The book features veterans recounting their experience of the atomic cleanup on Marshall Island.

Service would best describe Warren County veteran services officer 1st Sgt. Ernie Brewington, endearingly known as Sarge to many.

His 20-year military career began in 1961 as he reported for basic training at Fort Knox, Ky. 

One of his most memorable military assignments came in the Marshall Islands. It was 1977 and the land was still hot with radioactive material which remained as a result of the 67 nuclear tests performed there between 1946 and 1958.

The U.S. launched a clean-up effort to remove the most irradiated debris and soil. Brewington spoke of his time there and said, “It was scary actually, but we were not told in the very beginning what we would be looking at. It was hot, very hot. It’s located near the equator and 115 degrees was the daily average temperature. We had to wear radioactive badges which determined how much daily exposure we were receiving. They had a vinyl uniform if we were working directly with radioactive material. I have no hard feelings about it. I’m OK.”

His 20 years of service would find Brewington in different U.S. states and foreign lands, as well as various job assignments. Working within the maintenance company, he served 13 months in South Korea. The transportation department in New Orleans would be his home for a short time and then he would spend three years in Germany working with special weapons company.

Brewington did two tours of duty in Vietnam with the first as the maintenance company and the next he served in the 18th Military Police Brigade.

Brewington and his family settled in Warren County. He spent 23 years working with the youth of Warren County as the high school’s JROTC instructor before spending several years as Warren County’s veterans services officer. 

“I like helping veterans,” said Brewington. “We are able to assist and file claims for qualified veterans and dependents. Many of the claims we assist with are service-connected injuries, non-service related pensions, burial information and survivor pension benefits, to name a few. I can relate because I know what they have been through. I have enjoyed it all. Would I do it all over again? Yes, absolutely.”

The Warren County Veterans Services Office is located on Locust Street with office hours Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Wednesday’s hours vary. For more information call 473-6920.