Profile: Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Alfred Braswell
January 16, 2009
<strong>YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea</strong> - Command Sgt. Maj. (Ret.) Alfred Braswell is a veteran of World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War. He was wounded in combat in Korea and three times in Vietnam. He dedicated 30 years of his life to the military and before serving 27 years as a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps instructor at Seoul American High School.
"All of the disruptions or struggles along the way worked out for me and I wouldn't change anything if I had it to do over," Braswell said.
Braswell has lived the life of a motto he now shares with his cadets in hopes they will become the Army's next strong young leaders. "Don't be a quitter, set your goals and stay with it."
Braswell's lifelong journey with the military started during World War II in 1945. He was an 18-year-old Navy draftee trying to complete the final semester for his senior year of high school. The war ended and he was able to return to his Texarkana, Texas home to finish high school. Braswell was drafted again in 1950, but this time into the Army.
While traveling on foot in 1951, in the Korean War, the blast from a command detonated booby trap cost Braswell a shrapnel wound to his leg. After 60 days treatment in the hospital, Braswell's commission to serve was back in full swing.
After 18 years of service in the Army, Braswell returned to combat during the Vietnam War. He was hit there by another command detonated booby trap. The blast destroyed the hearing in his left ear and he went through several surgeries to recover. After five months of repair, Braswell put his services back into service once again.
After a short assignment in the states, Braswell returned to Vietnam for another tour. While attempting to seek cover in a bunker an artillery round went off and hit him in the back. "That one wasn't too bad. They policed me up and I was back to work within 24 hours."
At another time in Vietnam a bullet grazed past him and chipped the bone under his eye. This time Braswell said he took no time off work, but had 30 days of light duty.
"It never bothered me; every time I was just thankful I was still alive. I was never afraid to go back to duty," he said.
A goal that Braswell set for himself was to become a sergeant major during his Army career. His many years of dedication, while stationed at Camp Red Cloud, secured him the rank and position of command sergeant major - something he had once only dreamed of as a young private. "My proudest moment in the military was when I was promoted to command sergeant major because that was my goal. I achieved it because I stuck with it," he said.
After 30 years of service, once it was time for Braswell to retire, he said it wasn't time for him to quit. "Right around that time there were advertisements in the Stars and Stripes and on TV for personnel who wanted to be an instructor for JROTC. "I had about 15 years under my belt off and on as a drill sergeant and figured I'd be able to help guide young leaders."
Braswell was selected to instruct the program on Yongsan in 1981, when the program was first activated in the Republic of Korea.
Throughout Braswell's lifetime of accomplishment that include two Combat Infantryman Badges, a Legion of Merit, three Bronze Stars - one for valor, four Purple Hearts, two Meritorious Service Medals and four Army Commendation Medals, he said he never expected to receive any type of recognition.
Braswell was recently recognized as the Yongsan Retiree Council's first "Retiree Icon." In November, as part of his recognition, he received the Noncommissioned Officer Award, World War II Medallion.
"The ceremony was in the auditorium in the school and there was a presentation of everything I had done throughout my time in the military and JROTC and there were lots of VIPs," he said. "I didn't believe it could ever happen to me but it's a proud moment when someone is willing to recognize you. Things like that just never cross my mind when I'm doing my job."
The man who never quits said he is set to retire.
"My projected retirement date is 31 December 2009. Now that's projected, I might decide to stay another year," he said.
Braswell said if he does retire his plan is to return to Texas where he will "go sit under the shade tree," he said, "I'm gonna get out and stand in Reveille every morning and Retreat in the afternoon."