View Full Version : Thomaston family carries on long military tridation

07-04-08, 07:18 PM
Thomaston family carries on long military tridation

By Heather McGinnis
Friday, July 4, 2008 8:50 AM CDT
Staff Writer


Their motto is the Few, the Proud, the Marines and Semper Fidelis, latin for “always faithful”, and Thomaston is the home many of the few, faithful and all of the proud.

One such proud family is the Brannon’s. For nearly two centuries a member of the Brannon family has been involved with U.S. military, creating a legacy left to be fulfilled with valor and honor by upcoming generations.

Col. Daniel Brannon, a 1964 graduate of R.E. Lee High school and son to Elizabeth Morris of Upson Ave. and the late Wallace Brannon began his career as a Marine in 1968. A move that led to his 28-year military career beginning as a Naval aviator, then becoming a flight instructor, a teacher at Malaysian Armed Forces Staff College in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His career also placed him and his family living in Mildenhall, England.

Col. Brannon has received numerous awards during his service such as Defense Meritorious Service Metal and the Meritous Service Metal with gold star.

During Col. Brannon’s military career, his son, Derek Brannon, grew up admiring his father, always wanting to be a pilot jus t like his dad.

In 1996, his dreams came true and his father, moments before retiring, recruited his son as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marines.

Since then, Derek has been fulfilling the legacy of those set generations before him. As his aunt, Gloria Russ stated, “Derek is carrying on the family legacy, he’s been to Iraq so far three times during this war. Just like the generations before him, Derek possesses the same good heartedness and qualities as his father and grandfathers.”

Russ brought in some compelling information on Brannon and his son. One of the articles she presented was by Sgt. Lukas Atwell, VMFA-115 Public Affairs that stated:

“Major Derek Brannon, a pilot with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115, the Silver Eagles, was recognized by the Order of Daedalians as the Marine Corps Exceptional Pilot for 2007.

Selection for the award based on standards such as, exceptional performance to ensure mission success, acts of valor as an aviator or exceptional display of courage and leadership in the air support of air operations.

‘‘He is the best pilot training officer I have ever worked with,’ said Major Michael Sobkowski, the executive officer of VMFA-115, and the pilot who nominated Brannon for the award.

‘‘During our pre-deployment work-ups, we saw Maj. Brannon create the most comprehensive and successful pre-deployment training plan I’ve ever seen.’’

Upon returning from deployment to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan in January 2007, Brannon assumed the billet of PTO. Six months later, the squadron began preparing for combat in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to Maj. Lance Patrick, a VMFA-115 pilot.

‘‘Given 180 days, Brannon was tasked to create and execute a training plan that would prepare the 18 pilots for combat operations at the first forward air-controller airborne (FAC-A) capable single seat F/A-18 Hornet squadron to ever deploy to Iraq,’’ Patrick explained.

‘Brannon used exercises like Mojave Viper to familiarize the squadron with other ground and aviation units,’ Patrick said. ‘This had benefits far beyond the unit level as a majority of the forces VMFA-115 trained with were units they would be supporting here.’

‘‘Because of this combination of air and ground elements, VMFA-115 has an excellent relationship with the forward air controllers we now support,’ added Sobkowski. ‘The ultimate test of his training plan, prior to stepping-off for combat operations, was the final evaluation by Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One at Desert Talon aboard MCAS Yuma, Ariz., where the squadron tested across the entire spectrum of missions tasked to Hornets in the OIF theatre,” Patrick explained.

‘‘The squadron passed the evaluation with the highest score of the last seven Desert Talon exercises,’’ Sobowski added.

‘‘We have some exceptional pilots and maintainers and our success has to do with the work everyone put into getting ready for this deployment,’ Brannon remarked with humility.”

During May, the award was accepted by his wife, Meredith, during the Order of Daedalians annual convention in Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Russ said of her nephew and great nephew, “It’s so great to know that Thomaston is where these men are rooted. There is something extra special about this town, and everyone, marine or not should be proud to be the few that live here.”