Spend five minutes with Sergeant Michael Brattole and you will realize that talking about his service to the country is far down his list of priorities. After five years in the Marine Corps, where he earned awards and medals for valor in combat, he would have every right to tell tales of heroism. But for the past two years, since his return home, he’s been working as a firefighter and once again humbly serving his community.
Brattole, 26, was honored by the Devils on February 9 as the Hero of the Game, a part of the Clark, NJ’s “My Town” night. Brattole’s hometown became the third in a series of celebrations throughout the season where the New Jersey Devils and Prudential center recognize families, leaders and communities throughout the Garden State.
“It was something I always wanted to do,” Brattole said of joining the military and the Marines specifically. “I wanted to be part of the best.”
Brattole first joined the Marines in 2006 and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010. He received a naval commendation, with a “V” representing combat, for a firefight he was involved in while deployed, and received the Purple Heart after being injured by a hand grenade.
For Brattole, the transition to civilian life and becoming a firefighter was natural. “It’s almost the same,” he explained. “You’ve got the same kind of rank structure and everything like that.” He even mentioned that the brotherhood in the fire department helped fill the void left by his family in Marines.
Although Brattole now works for the Linden Fire Department in Linden, NJ, he grew up in Clark, only 4.5 miles away. “Clark’s a great town…it’s a great town to raise kids,” he said.
Beyond Brattole, Clark’s My Town night featured the township police and fire departments as the color guard, bearing the flags for the national anthems, and Clark Mayor Sal Bonaccorsco and Director of Recreation Ralph Bernardo were on hand to represent the town.
“It’s an honor to have the Devils ask us to participate…all New Jerseyans should be good Devils fans,” Mayor Bonaccorsco said. “This is another great night to highlight our community…we’re just very proud to be a part of the night.”
Each town that participates in the My Town events throughout the season will receive a custom designed bench by Halmar, as well as a shade tree in the spring. The next night in the My Town series is set for February 20, when the Devils will celebrate Union, N.J. For more information on the My Town program, please call 973-757-6250.