Keesler heritage: Bryan Hall

  • Published
  • By 338th
  • Training Squadron
Not all of us will be called to die for our country like Chief Master Sgt. Richard Etchberger did at Lima Site 85 on that fateful day in 1968, or exhibit heroism for their roles in Southeast Asia like Staff Sgt. Robert Foster, Airman 1st Class Darryl Winters or Capt. Howard Cody . In fact, compared to many whose names highlight buildings on Keesler, the history of Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Bryan, Jr., might seem rather unremarkable--but that's exactly the point: his everyday commitment to the core values serves as a reminder to us all that it's dedication to the values in what we do, day in and day out, that can elevate our story from the mundane, into something compelling.

Thomas Ludwell Bryan, Jr. was a commander at various levels and command pilot who hailed from Tyler, Texas. He graduated from West Point in 1929 and began his career as an infantry officer but quickly went to flying training about a year later. He first served in operations with the 44th Observation Squadron where he was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone.

In 1932 he went on to become an instructor pilot at Kelly Field, Texas. As an early leader in communications and electronics, he understood the critical nature of communications in spite of his flying qualifications. As a result, in 1939 Bryan became an assistant director of communications at Chanute Field. This assignment was followed by three key, consecutive positions in training as assistant commandant of the Air Corps Technical School at Scott Field, Illinois. A year later, he was director of training at Morrison Field, Florida and the following year, he was sent to the Applied Tactics School in Orlando, Florida.

He served in the Fifth Air Force in the Pacific theater in 1945 in communications. For several months in 1948 he was assigned to Task Force 7 assisting with atomic weapons testing at Eniwetok, Marianas Islands and later attended the National War College in Washington D.C.

In his later leadership positions, he was deputy chief of staff for communications of the Alaskan Air Command at Fort Richardson, Alaska and commanded the 10th Air Division at Elmendorf Air Base, Alaska. He also commanded the 1800th, Airways and Air Communications Service Wing which was responsible for the installation, operation and maintenance of Air Traffic Control systems and navigational aids.

Living the core values requires a daily, conscious commitment. The following are some exercises each of us can do in light of Bryan's life, to follow his example:

(1) We can take advantage of every opportunity--some of Maj Gen Bryan's assignments happened in rapid succession. He clearly saw each as a chance to excel; some of these positions were only a year long or less which required him to move frequently, sometimes overseas.

(2) Although Bryan was a command pilot, he pursued a career in education, communications and electronics. Additionally, he was tasked to observe nuclear weapons testing and later authored a report on his observations. Perhaps there is an opportunity in our unit or on the base which, if we take advantage of it, may not be within our expertise but provides us a chance to grow and learn.

(3) Bryan had many roles throughout his career: he was a student, an instructor, a leader and an author. We never know what door the Air Force will open for us. Embracing each challenge with excellence is the pathway to success.

Bryan's example serves as a reminder of the beautiful simplicity of living our lives and professions through the prism of the core values. We may never be called upon to pay the ultimate price, but when we act with integrity first, place the service before ourselves and commit to excellence in every small thing each day, we stand at the threshold of greatness.

Please contact the 338 TRS if you are interested in further information.
A tribute to Maj. Gen. Thomas Bryan with this information can be viewed at the main entrance to Bryan Hall. Additionally, see his biography at