A Spartanburg man has been assigned command of a National Guard unit helping protect the United States from aerial attacks.
Glenn Bramhall, a S.C. Army National Guard member, was promoted earlier this month to the rank of Army major general.
The two-star general has assumed command of the Anderson based 263rd Army Air Missile Defense Command (AAMDC). Bramhall serves as the deputy area air defense commander for the Continental United States North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Alaskan NORAD Region.
Bramhall said when he was young, he knew that he wanted to serve in the military.
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"That was my boyhood dream," he said during a telephone interview from Ft. Bliss in Texas.
Bramhall's grandfather was a Navy captain during World War II. Other relatives also served in the military. Bramhall recalled watching combat movies every Saturday and dreamed of serving his country.
The Pennsylvania native came South to attend The Citadel, where he graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. He felt "in his element" at the military college and met several people from Spartanburg County.
He met lifelong Spartanburg resident Faith Cox on a blind date. They married nine months later. That was 33 years ago.
Faith Cox Bramhall finished finals for her master's degree from Converse College on a Friday, married Bramhall the following day and faced Bramhall's deployment to Egypt that Monday.
"He (Bramhall) adopted Spartanburg as his own," Cox Bramhall said.
This community has been his home since 1982.
Cox Bramhall cannot count all of her husband's deployments. Some last a couple of weeks, others several months.
The longest separation was his deployment to Afghanistan in 2003; he was there for more than a year. Cox Bramhall said their sons, Ian, Evan and Ben, were young at the time.
Cox Bramhall, a Spartanburg High School teacher, said the community, especially fellow members at First Baptist Church of Spartanburg, has provided support during Bramhall's deployments – offering to take a son fishing or leaving strawberries on the porch.
The Bramhalls were glad to share the day of Bramhall's promotion with friends and family at a ceremony held March 9 in Anderson.
"I was tremendously proud and felt that he so deserved it," Cox Bramhall said. "It's such a joy to live with somebody who loves their work like that."
The 263rd AAMDC works with the Air Force to provide ground-based missile defense. The unit was one of the first to have members deployed after the 9/11 attacks.
"We have soldiers right now who are actually deployed to protect the skies over our nation's capital," Bramhall said.
Bramhall's military career includes two Legions of Merit, a Bronze Star earned in Operation Enduring Freedom, the Combat Infantryman Badge and Parachutist Badge.
Along with national responsibilities, Bramhall said the unit has a state mission to assist the people of South Carolina. During recent winter storms, members helped people stranded on highways – one was a woman about to give birth who needed transportation to the hospital.
Bramhall said much has changed in the Army National Guard.
He said many National Guard units have been deployed over the last 12 years, including 18,000 soldiers from South Carolina. He said around 85 percent of today's Guard enlisted after 9/11.
"It really helped the force to get a lot of new and young blood in," he said.
Bramhall said most adjunct generals are now combat veterans with experience that cannot be gained through drills and training.
"The way we train is the way we fight," Bramhall said.
The attitude of active-duty soldiers, he said, also has changed as National Guard units have fought alongside them.
"The National Guard is a fighting force, and we have contributed so much to our nation's defense through our deployments in these last two wars," Bramhall said of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.