Remembering Col. J. W. Bradin,’58: His life of service to America and his alma mater

Photo above: Col. J.W. Bradin, USA (Ret.) The Citadel Commandant of Cadets, 1984. Courtesy of The Citadel Archives.

On four occasions he was awarded America’s third highest military combat medal, the Silver Star, for gallantry in action. And among his other commendations: the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism.

For his service to his country, and his many other professional accomplishments and deeds, Col. J.W. Bradin, USA (Ret.), Citadel Class of 1958, is being remembered as a leader who personified the college’s core values of honor, duty, and respect. Bradin passed away in September of 2020, at the age of 85.

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In addition to his service to America, outlined in his obituary below, Bradin served The Citadel as a Professor of Military Science while still on active duty, and later, as Commandant of Cadets from 1982-84, followed by service as a member of The Citadel Board of Visitors.

Photo of Col. J.W. Bradin, USA, taken in 1981 while he was a Professor of Military Science and head of AROTC at The Citadel. Courtesy of The Citadel Archives

His full obituary, as seen in The Post & Courier, is below.

SUN CITY, FL – It is with great sadness that we announce the peaceful passing of James W. Bradin, 85, Colonel, U.S. Army Retired. The family was able to be with him in his final moments and we now reflect on his life. Jim was born in Pinehurst, North Carolina, the son of Benjamin M. Bradin and Anna Bower Bradin.

He moved to post-war Berlin with his parents as a young child, where, among many other adventures, Jim was the first American dependent to become an Eagle Scout in Germany. This led to him taking an active role in the Boy Scouts for many, many years. As Jim grew into a rebellious teenager, his parents thought it best to send him to the Carlisle Military Academy in Bamberg, South Carolina. During his time at Carlisle, he met a girl from Orangeburg (SC) who would forever change his life. Upon graduation from Carlisle, he enrolled in The Citadel, in Charleston, South Carolina.

Jim loved The Citadel and the military program, but he was having a little too much fun and found it difficult to fit in time for studying. In 1958 — by the grace of God –Jim graduated from The Citadel with a degree in history and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. Thankfully, he was, by now, well adapted to wearing the limited wardrobe of uniforms! During his time at The Citadel, he began to date that lovely young girl from Orangeburg, our mother, Jervey Gramling. In June of 1958, Jim made the best decision of his life when he married Jervey and they began a journey that would last for 62 years. In his words, “She is a saint. God blessed me so, by talking that lady into sharing my wild and wooly life.”

Over the next 30 years, Jim and Jervey moved to military bases all over the US, as well as Germany. In 1980, as fate would have it, Jim returned to The Citadel. He was assigned as the PMS, Professor of Military Science, followed by Commandant of Cadets. He would later serve on the Board of Visitors. Jim dedicated himself to his military career, but also made time for his family and community. He enjoyed sailing and camping with the family – dragging them along even when they did not want to go…he always encouraged his children to challenge themselves.

Throughout his career, Jim was awarded 4 Silver Stars, 2 Bronze Stars with V device, the Distinguished Flying Cross, 22 Air Medals, the Purple Heart, 2 Meritorious Service Medals, and 2 Legions of Merit.

On 14 September 2020, Jim Bradin was given his final assignment to Fiddler’s Green, where he was reunited with his fellow cavalrymen. His service to his family and nation was one of total commitment – he never did anything halfway.

He was an avid boater, military historian, and published author. He is survived by his wife, Jervey, his three children, James Bradin (Regina), Jr., Stuart Bradin (Kelly), and Michelle Holtzclaw (James), 6 grandchildren, and 1 great-grandchild. Jim will be cremated and, upon the passing of Jervey, they will be buried together in the Beaufort National Cemetery.

Cadet James W. Bradin, The Citadel Class of 1958
Courtesy of The Citadel Archives