Ron Braasch grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, with his parents and two younger sisters. His father ran the family lawnmower repair business, and Ron grew up helping. He earned good grades in high school, but did not work hard, and felt that he had no direction. He decided to join the Army for the college fund, and entered under the Delayed Entry program. After Basic Training in 2002, he was stationed at Ft. Stewart, Georgia, where he joined B Company, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor. Upon arriving at the unit, he learned that most of the battalion had already deployed to Kuwait, and that he would soon be joining them overseas. Camp New Jersey, in Kuwait, was a culture shock, and at times Ron struggled to mesh with the unit while at the same time learning all the Soldier tasks that were required of him as a member of a tank crew. He recalls feelings of exhaustion when his company was required to pull 50% security at nights. He remembers waving to Dan Rather as his tank left Kuwait when the invasion of Iraq began. He was part of the force that drove from Kuwait to Baghdad and occupied that city. After he redeployed to the States, his Platoon Leader encouraged him to apply to West Point, and he was accepted to the Prep School. He attended USMAPS in 2004, and he felt that it was a great experience because he learned to be a follower again. While at the Prep School, he met his future wife, Amanda, who had served in the Maryland National Guard. In the summer of 2005, he reported to Cadet Basic Training (Beast Barracks) as a cocky prior-service new cadet. He decided to major in History, and fondly remembers many of his instructors who later became his colleagues. He branched Aviation, Amanda branched Medical Service, and they married the day after graduation in the Catholic Chapel. In flight school, he became a Chinook pilot, feeling that within the aviation community, his personality meshed best with the CH-47 pilots. While Ron was in flight school, Amanda deployed to Iraq. In 2011, Ron was assigned to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina and assigned to B Company, 3rd Battalion, 82nd General Support Aviation Battalion, and he quickly deployed to Afghanistan, flying primarily night missions. He considers his greatest success bringing everybody home. After company command time at Ft. Rucker, he was selected to attend grad school at Fordham University before returning to West Point to teach in the History Department.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his enlisted service in the Army, attending the Prep School and West Point, and his experiences as an Army Aviator. He vividly recalls the invasion of Iraq, including A-10 close air support, an ambush on Highway 9, and an incident in MOPP IV. He reflects on passing destroyed equipment left in the Iraqi desert from the Gulf War, and occupying one of Saddam’s palaces. He recounts his experiences flying Chinooks around Afghanistan and some of the dangerous missions he was on. Finally, he shares what his service and West Point mean to him.