October and November always have special meaning for Brighton Marine Veterans Housing resident Reen Littlebrook. October 9 is Indigenous Peoples’ Day and November 11 is Veterans Day but Reen isn’t one to call a lot of attention to either his military time or his ethnicity.
Reen is also not one to dwell on the past. After he joined the U.S. Air Force and served as a 1st class Airman during the Korean War, he was taken as a prisoner of war for eight months. Reen stresses he was treated well during the ordeal.
“I chose to join because it was an honor to serve my country as a proud American. I also was inspired by my older brother Amon, who served during WWII in the U.S. Marines. The military awarded Amon for his valor and I always looked up to him.”
Reen was born 91 years ago into a family that’s part of the Chumash Tribe from Santa Ynez, California. The Chumash people lived in an area from San Luis Obispo to Malibu, including the four Northern Channel Islands; at one time Chumash territory encompassed 7,000 square miles. The reservation in Santa Ynez represents the only federally recognized band for the Chumash people though there are several other organized groups that exist.
Reen is also proud that his late wife was a member of the Sioux Tribe. For over six decades he’s called the Brighton neighborhood his home, making a living as a martial arts instructor, and is well known for driving his blue 1947 Hudson up and down the streets for years.
As he got older, the Kelliher family saw Reeb needed help and they were instrumental in connecting him to Brighton Marine. The Kellihers still live in the neighborhood and often visit to check on their long-time friend. Reen says, “Brighton Marine is just the perfect place for me. I love my neighbors, the support staff, the campus and all the activities. America is an amazing country and every day I’m grateful for all of us who make it so special.”