AT SEA - It takes a special person to be so dedicated to the country that when they choose to leave a full-time military career they volunteer to serve part time. But that's just the type of person Yeoman 2nd Class Richard Bragg became when he joined the Reserves in 2009.
“I was working a job that had no benefits and I needed benefits for myself and my son,” said Bragg. He began thinking about the Navy and about how much he'd enjoyed his time on active duty. It wasn't long before he recognized the valuable services he and the Navy could provide to one another once again, so after a nine-year break from active service, he enlisted in the Reserves.
In 2012, while assigned to the Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 57 (VR-57) Conquistadors based at Naval Air Station North Island, Bragg decided he wanted to volunteer yet again. This time for an individual augmentee assignment that would take him away from his comfortable civilian life for seven months and relocate him to Ali Al Salem Air Base, about 23 miles from the Iraqi border.
“I worked at the tactical operations center tracking [personnel] movements on and off base and within the country. If personnel went to the United Arab Emirates or Bahrain, I would track them and I also did admin work for them,” he explained.
Though the distance from his family and friends was hard sometimes, he felt challenged by having to prove himself capable time and time again in new work centers.
“Initially going out there and starting at one base and then moving to another base was the biggest challenge,” he said. “The challenge was that when you move you have to re-establish yourself and your reputation all over again.”
Fortunately Bragg has a competitive nature and has an “always go above and beyond” attitude. He prides himself on setting and reaching goals, staying motivated and always trying to do at least double of what's expected of him.
In addition to doing his job, he volunteered as a base librarian and within the Morale, Welfare and Recreation department. It wasn't long before others recognized his hard-charging ways.
Bragg received an Army Achievement medal for the work that he did in helping to close Ali Al Salem.
That Reserve career achievement was made even sweeter by the fact that Bragg was also able to accomplish some personal goals while on his IA that will help him outside of the Navy as well. He hit the gym hard six days a week dropping weight and toning up. More importantly, he also earned his C++ Networking certificate using night classes offered on base, with a goal of becoming a network engineer.
While he was glad to get back home in November, Bragg said that returning to civilian life can be challenging.
“You may come back to a new job or a new supervisor and you have to prove yourself all over again,” he said.
Despite the challenges he faced during his IA and upon returning home, Bragg said he is happy he deployed and would consider volunteering for another deployment.
“I had a good time. I saw a little bit of the world,” Bragg said. “I got to network and I made a lot of good friends out there.”
By U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Melissa Russell
Provided through DVIDS
Comment on this article