“The only easy day was yesterday”

U.S. Marine David Braman gives inspiring graduation speech at Beaufort Academy

If you had a child graduating Sunday from Beaufort Academy, they had the great opportunity to hear from a BA graduate who offered some solid life strategies for them as they take their first steps into the real world.

BAsenior-9732-100David Braman is all of a whopping 44 years old and has managed to pack a lifetime of experience into those few years. He is almost a native as he arrived here with a military family when he was a toddler. He, and his three sisters, grew up in Beaufort and came to love and respect this amazing place we all call home.

Dave always wanted to be a pilot. His memories go to a photograph of him next to his Dad’s plane at MCAS when he was four. If nothing else, Dave is a very focused young man. After graduating from the Citadel in 1992, he was accepted into the Marine Corp Officer Training Program. He affectionately calls the Marines, “the low budget rodeo” which given that they do almost twice the “protecting” and get about ½ of the funding that the other military branches, seems an apt description.

His training began in Pensacola at the Navy Flight Training School where at the end of training, those cadets at the top of their groups got to choose what type of helicopter they wanted to fly and Dave chose the CH-53E known as the “Super Stallion”. He readily admits that after life in college, some time back here waiting to get a slot in helicopter training school because they were backed up, he had to “retie his shoes a little tighter.” Some of that is probably due to meeting another future Navy pilot named Abby who later became his wife. But tie those shoes tighter, he did and then came a stellar career including three deployments overseas; two in Djibouti (better known to us as the Horn of Africa) which Dave contends is the “unequivocal hottest place on earth”.

He gave me the following summary of his career, “I have been to 6 continents, 32 countries, and 42 states. I have had many tremendous experiences and seen some amazing things. I have also had the misfortune to witness some awful things in some of the worst places on this planet. I have gotten to land a helicopter on Wall St. as well as at the foot of the great pyramids in Egypt.” Just your normal everyday life, right? Not so.

But for Dave, family came first, and his wife and new baby, Megan, wanted him home. And home he came when he was assigned to the Presidential Helicopter Squadron called HMX-1 based in Washington, DC. Dave has been flying not only our Presidents between locations, but also the Vice President and the five key heads of departments in the government on a regular, daily basis.

Sounds glamourous doesn’t it? A dream job? Maybe, but only if you can deal with the stress of flying POTUS to various locations around the world. But this job, and the Marines, have taught Dave the value of teamwork above all else.

Dave shared with the BA graduates the Navy Seal mantra which states, “The only easy day was yesterday, meaning – to succeed, you must work harder and harder each day, but when you find what you are capable of, you see how easy yesterday was.”

He continued, “As you continue to blaze a path forward, unsure of your future success, try to “bloom where you are planted”. Whether it’s in a college classroom, during a summer internship, or with your first full time job, work hard to be your absolute best…even if you can’t stand your class, your boss, or your job. You will eventually change all of these and you will want the best possible recommendation as you move on because your life may not unfold exactly as you have planned it. Build a strong reputation and hold your integrity sacred. Both will follow you for the rest of your life and will help shape and define your character.”

Currently, Dave is working on the Presidential Helicopter Replacement Program for the VH92-A. Determining what the next Presidential helicopter will be able to do, how it will move, what it looks like both inside and out, is all in the works with his team.

But retirement is coming soon. Specifically, July 2016. What is next, you wonder, for a young man who has done and seen more than he expected when he graduated from BA many years ago? I am pretty sure it will be anything he wants to do, and I am also pretty certain, it will bring him back to Beaufort. I expect it will involve a team- a group of people working together to cause something to happen. Dave is the individual President Harry S. Truman talks about when he said, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” Dave believes with that as a guiding force, you will be respected, honored, trusted, and someone others want to be around. You will, in fact, be a Marine. All of those qualities you can see in David Braman. The future holds nothing but the best for Dave, his family, and all the 2015 graduates of Beaufort Academy.

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