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Cadet Brandon Curry Returns to UC from Active Duty in Iraq

Brandon Curry and other University of Cincinnati veterans are honored at September football game and during Veterans’ Day ceremony.

Date: 11/4/2005
By: Wendy Beckman
Phone: (513) 556-1826
Photos By: Lisa Ventre
Brandon Curry, UC ROTC student and Iraq vet, also part of color guard practicing for football game presentation.
Brandon Curry, UC ROTC student and Iraq vet, also part of color guard practicing for football game presentation.

Brandon Curry returned from Iraq to a grateful nation, a university just entering the Big East — but most importantly, in time for the arrival of his daughter, Kennedy, who was born on August 4.

“She is the most precious thing I’ve seen in my life,” says the proud papa. “I’m so glad I got back in time.”

Being back in the states feels good. Brandon appreciates being out of the environment where he had to be constantly careful and mindful of his activities and surroundings. “It’s so hostile, with things flying fast,” says Brandon, thoughtfully. “Now, the dangers aren’t there. You’re in the safety of your own house.”

Rolling the U.S. flag during the color guard practice.

Brandon left UC for Iraq in the fall quarter of 2003. “Thank goodness for the teachers,” Brandon says. Because deployed students were not able to take their finals, UC’s instructors worked around their students’ needs so that they could still get credit for the courses they were enrolled in.

“I got my orders on December 6. I would have had to drop all my courses that quarter. I am so thankful for the teachers — that had a large impact on me coming back. I was able to keep my GPA high,” Brandon says. “And I got a 3.4 that quarter!”

Brandon’s Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) in Iraq was a 63-w wheeled vehicle mechanic. He was also cross-trained with track vehicles, such as tanks and construction equipment.

“My base had a lot of local nationals who worked for us,” Brandon explains. “For example, we had a batch plant where we brought in truckloads of rocks and concrete for laying airfields and streets. The local nationals would bring in the trucks. Our job was to secure them, secure the trucks.”

Brandon found the locals were about 50–50 in support of the United States versus wishing that our troops would leave.

“There weren’t too many altercations, though,” says Brandon. One area, called Area 51, was a concrete barrier distribution point, where a crane was used to lower concrete barriers onto trucks. During this time, he frequently got the chance to get to know the Iraqi truck drivers.

“You’d sit down and talk, teach them English, try to learn some of their language. It was quite a good experience,” he says. Some of the local nationals would even ask for soldiers by name if they weren’t on that day.

Color guard practice.

Brandon and his battle buddy, Jonathan Lauderbach, operated a “contact truck.” This was a Humvee outfitted with all the maintenance tools necessary to make it a mobile mechanics shop. “We don’t have to worry about parts — we have them all.”

Their job was to go with the convoy and keep it up and running. If a vehicle broke down on the road, they needed to get that vehicle moving. Unlike taking your car to the dealership, the longer a vehicle is broken down there, the more its occupants are a sitting target. Brandon had a special relationship with his battle buddy, Jonathan. “Battle buddies always watch your back. He’s almost like a brother,” says Brandon. “It’s like your lifeline.”

This was not Brandon's first tour of duty. “I was in Kuwait during 9/11,” he says quietly.

Brandon came to Cincinnati for UC
Brandon came to Cincinnati for UC's strong engineering programs.

After he graduates, Brandon has a couple of options. He can go back into the military, for one. With his time in service, including prior active duty and combat duty, he would only need 12–14 years after graduation before he would be able to retire from the military. With a wife and a new daughter, he’s looking to the future for his family and himself.

Brandon, a mechanical engineering technology major, would like to go into the automotive manufacturing area, with an ultimate goal of focusing on engineering design. UC’s new program in transportation design opens up more possibilities at UC for him, including graduate school.

“The goal in the military is for everyone to get a master’s degree,” he says.

Brandon would advise young students interested in a military career to seriously research all aspects of the military — all its branches, all its values.

“You need to know what the job might require,” Brandon says. “The military can do a world of good for you. It teaches you about all aspects of life, discipline, knowledge and leadership. The values of the army are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.” Brandon also cites the wonderful educational opportunities that the military offers. “It’s a stepping stone to so many things.”

Brandon is introduced to the crowd during halftime of the game against Eastern Michigan. Photo by Brett Hansbauer.
Brandon is introduced to the crowd during halftime of the game against Eastern Michigan. Photo by Brett Hansbauer.

Brandon’s active duty was enabled by the support of his wife, Edra, who herself served active duty with the 82nd Airborne in Fort Bragg. “It’s instrumental to have someone supporting what you do,” he says. “And she understands.”

One of Brandon’s friends, Sam Bowen, lost his life in Iraq. “He was one of the first from our unit. It was hard to take,” says Brandon. “I will always remember Sam and the sacrifices that he and his family made so that we can have the freedoms we have today. I will always honor him.”

“Life is precious — life teaches you to work hard,” says Brandon. “The military teaches you to work hard.”

Brandon will be honored at the Veterans’ Day ceremony on Nov. 10 on McMicken Commons.

“It is a pleasure and an honor to be in this position.”