Vina grad completes Ranger training
Kim West, Franklin County Times
Spec. Bradley Townsend, a 2002 Vina High School graduate, has completed Ranger training and is stationed with C Company, 3rd Ranger Infantry Battalion at Ft. Benning, Ga.
"I was really proud that he completed it," said his mother, Deborah Townsend. "From talking to other people, Ranger training is the toughest in the Army."
Bradley was a member of the National Honor Society and played basketball at Vina, where his father, Richard, is the guidance counselor and his mother teaches kindergarten.
His two younger brothers, Brent and Blake, also attend the school. Bradley was the class valedictorian, and he won a There's A Way scholarship, which was first awarded to Franklin County seniors in 2002.
He received an associate degree in computer information systems at Northwest-Shoals in 2004 and transferred to the University of North Alabama to double major in history and political science.
Bradley graduated magna cum laude in May 2006.
As a junior, he won the Phi Kappa Phi research award for a paper he had written for Dr. Clark Mueller, one of his UNA history professors.
"I had Bradley for a lot of my classes, and he was always a delight to have in my class because he had a good sense of humor and blended well with the other students," Mueller said. "His paper was so good that I asked him if I could submit it to the competition, and it was a very good paper for an undergraduate. Only up to four papers are selected each year from across the university, and I think only two were selected the year he won."
Bradley had decided to join the Army before he even graduated high school, according to his mother.
"He had always talked about this all throughout high school," she said. "He's very patriotic and wanted to do something for his country. We just figured he would get a good job after graduating from UNA."
Instead, Bradley enlisted in the Army last fall and completed basic training, advanced individual training (AIT) and Airborne School at Ft. Benning.
All three must be completed to enter the Ranger Indoctrination Program, which is an intense, month-long course that trains enlisted soldiers into Rangers.
The 75th Ranger Regiment is considered one of the most elite military units in the world and is a "flexible, highly trained and rapidly deployable light infantry force with specialized skills that enable it to be employed against a variety of conventional and special operations targets," according to the Army's Web site.
"He hasn't been deployed yet," Deborah Townsend said. "The Army does deploy them, but Rangers are only gone for three months at a time, because they're so highly trained. They come back and train and might go back again. They rotate out from the three locations.
"We were told that we will receive a letter two weeks after he is deployed because it's special forces. Bradley has said that if he does deploy, he'll get some days off before he leaves and after he returns, but he won't be able to tell us anything about the deployment.
Deborah said that having a child in the military is difficult, but she understands why her eldest son has chosen the Army as a career.
"Every time he comes home and every time he calls, he loves what he's doing. I think it's his calling. The only thing that keeps me going is that he loves what he's doing, and I just have to have faith that everything will be OK. And I know he has the same faith."