Patrick Brozowski’s Story: Beyond the Battlefield   

Liz stands to the left of her late husband and donor, Patrick Brozowski

Standing tall at 6-foot-6, with a spirit as robust as his physical stature, Patrick Brozowski was a man of many facets — a Marine, a teacher, a father, and above all, a hero. Raised on a hog farm in Capac, Michigan, his journey from the heartland to the battlefield, and later to the classroom and the open road, is a testament to the indomitable spirit that defined his life. We hear his story through the eyes of his wife, Liz, as her memories paint a picture of the man she loves, and the profound impact of a life lived in service to others.   

With three older brothers and one older sister, Brozowski was “the baby” in a large family and the admitted favorite of all five. “He was very spoiled,” admitted Liz with a laugh. “Patrick could do no wrong!”  

After graduating high school, Patrick had a brief stint at Saginaw Valley State University before joining the Marine Corps and becoming “the pride of every parent” in Capac. After some time spent in Asia, he was eventually deployed to fight in Operation Desert Storm. 

“He had an incredibly difficult experience, but he would never trade that for anything in the world,” said Liz. “It made him who he was, and he loved the military. It defined him, I think, in a lot of ways.” 

After being stationed in Jacksonville, NC, Patrick married his first wife and left the Marine Corps to earn his Bachelor of Arts and teaching certificate, and his Master of Education in Teaching and Learning.  

“He taught history in middle school, and he loved it,” said Liz. “He commanded respect when he walked in a room, it didn’t matter who you were or where you were — and the kids adored him.” 

After about four or five years, Patrick felt the call to serve his country once again and enlisted in the North Carolina National Guard. In total, Patrick’s military career spanned over two decades, including three tours in Desert Storm, Iraq, and as a Commanding Officer in Afghanistan. 

Eventually, life’s twisted turns would lead him to new beginnings. Patrick became a father to Aleksander and Nicholas in the late 1990s, and despite the end of his first marriage, family would remain a steadfast anchor in his life. Patrick’s love for his boys is one of the many things that Liz, who met Patrick online in 2009, was immediately attracted to. As a single mom of twin girls, it was love at first meet. “He flew down from North Carolina to Boca Raton, FL to see me on March 24,” recalled Liz. “I just remember running up to him and jumping into his arms and wrapping my legs around him. That kind of became our thing.” 

The rest, as they say, is history. Liz and her girls made the move to North Carolina, where she and Patrick created a blended family of their own. Patrick, who had always loved riding motorcycles, brought Liz along for the ride — both literally and figuratively — and they eventually became very active members of the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association (CVMA).  

“We found the CVMA and they’re all about riding,” said Liz. “It’s a great organization, and they do what they say they’re going to do — that’s helping veterans and their families. As soon as he joined that, he just belonged there. They welcomed both of us. He served on the board almost instantly, and he served three different positions before he passed away.”  

Patrick formed an immediate bond with his fellow CVMA members. After years of suffering from severe PTSD, often a lonely road in civilian life, he found solace among those who shared and empathized with his experiences. It was this group of cherished individuals who really stepped up on March 26, 2023, when both Liz and Patrick’s motorcycle tire blew out on the way home from their daughter Lelia’s acrobatics and tumbling meet. Once Patrick realized they were going to crash, he grabbed Liz in a bear hug and took the brunt of the impact, saving her life. In the aftermath of tragedy, the solidarity of the CVMA family became a beacon of hope, surrounding Liz with unwavering support during her darkest hours. 

“The accident was around 7 p.m., but by the time 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. showed up, I think half of our motorcycle chapter was there,” she recalled, tears in her eyes. “They never left me alone, not even for a second.”  

Following her x-ray examination, Liz’s immediate focus shifted to being by Patrick’s side in the trauma intensive care unit. She stayed in the family room every night until Saturday, April 1, when he passed.  

A hero in life and in death, Patrick was a registered organ, eye, and tissue donor — a choice Liz chose to honor during one of life’s most challenging moments. His selfless decision was marked by a flag raising, a memorial service, and an Honor Walk attended by his family, friends, and more than 100 CVMA members.  

“The Honor Walk was beautiful,” says Liz. “It was respectful, it was sad, it was every emotion you could possibly have.” 

A video of Patrick’s Honor Walk was posted online, shared worldwide, and had more than 8 million views. Their daughter Tasha, a D1 gymnast at the University of Maryland, competed at Regionals in honor of her dad the day before he passed. A fundraiser was set up for the family and a video of her routine was shared by the NCAA, prompting an outpouring of support from some of the best gymnasts in the world. Following his death, Lelia — Tasha’s twin sister, who does acrobatics and tumbling at Coker University—went on to make nationals in one of her events.  

“I have amazing kids,” said Liz. “They are so strong.”  

Patrick’s liver and left kidney were transplanted to save the lives of two individuals, and his lungs were placed for research. His donations of bone, tendon, and dermis enabled dozens of grafts to be created and transplanted to recipients throughout the country and world. Following his donation, Patrick’s body was transported to the funeral home in a police-led procession of over 70 bikers. Fire trucks were posted on almost every bridge along the way, flanked by flags and salutes.  

The injuries that Liz sustained in the crash were treated with surgery and physical therapy over the spring and summer. By November, persistent pain and restricted mobility in her elbow necessitated further evaluation via MRI, revealing the need for reconstructive surgery. 

“I asked the doctor what that would entail,” says Liz. “He said that we would have to use a cadaver, because I pretty much tore my entire ligament from the bone. When he said cadaver, I asked if it was possible to use my husband’s graft, because he was an organ donor. He had no idea and told me to contact the people who did the organ donation.” 

In the hopes of carrying a piece of Patrick with her forever, Liz contacted the Family Resources Department at HonorBridge. Family Resource Specialist Christina Godfrey worked with Liz, her surgeon, and LifeNet Health to identify and make available the appropriate graft for a directed donation. As Liz reflects on the road ahead, she finds solace in the knowledge that Patrick’s presence endures, not merely in memories, but in the very fabric of her being.  

“I didn’t think it was going to happen, to be honest,” says Liz. “I thought it was a long shot. When she told me I was going to get it, I was relieved, and I was kind of in a state of shock. But I wanted a piece of him. He left me way too quickly, and we didn’t get a chance to grow old together. Now, I can grow old with him. In a weird way, it keeps him alive.”