NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Aug. 27, 2020) – The deputy commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District received a promotion to the rank of lieutenant colonel today during a ceremony at the district’s headquarters that was also seen virtually via WebEx.
Lt. Col. Sonny B. Avichal, Nashville District commander, promoted Maj. Nathan A. Branen and led the effort to put silver oak leafs on his uniform. He also commended him for his demonstrated excellence throughout his career, and his potential to excel and lead in the future.
“I had the privilege to hire him for this position and he was an excellent choice,” said Avichal. “You can learn a lot about a person from where they have been and what they have done. The Army has invested much in you and I have no doubt you’ll continue to succeed.”
Robert and Anne Branen, his parents, traveled from Florida to congratulate him for his hard-earned achievement and to participate in his advancement. Branen’s father and mother read quotes from each of his siblings. His sisters, Jennifer Wagner; Jessica Branen; Abbey Henderson; and brother Ben Branen watched the virtual ceremony and wished him well.
Both his parents put on the epaulettes with his new rank on his shoulder boards for the first time in his career.
“We are so proud of you and your success in the Army,” said Robert Branen. We continue to wish you great success and know you will do great in this job.
A partially teary-eyed Branen thanked his family and everyone for attending his promotion and expressed with gratitude for those who have helped him succeed to get to this point in his career.
“I’m very grateful for this opportunity and look forward to my new role in the district,” said Branen.
Avichal, said his new deputy is a top notch performer deserving of promotion, but noted he could not have done it alone.
“I want to thank the entire family and let you know I appreciate you for what they have done to support Nathan,” Avichal said. “This is not just about the great work that Nathan has done and all of the promotion potential we see in his future, but it’s about family and their support for him all these years,” Avichal added.
Branen’s mom and dad beamed with pride as they spoke about his upbringing, his love for family, energetic personality, and his desire to be a leader.
Branen hails from Burlington, Wisconsin. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Minnesota as well as a Master of Science degree in Geological Engineering from the University of Missouri at Rolla. He is a graduate of the Engineer Officer Basic Course, the Engineer Captain’s Career Course, and the Army Command and General Staff College.
Branen began his Army career in 2005; he has served in positions at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; University of Minnesota ROTC program; and Fort Riley, Kanas. Fort Eustis, Virginia; USACE Middle East District as Saudi Arabia Office’s OIC. He attended Command and General Staff College in 2016. He deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom in Baghdad, Iraq in 2007 and 2009 and to Afghanistan in 2016.
His military awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal (three awards), Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Joint Meritorious Unit Award, Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Citation, Iraq and Afghanistan Campaign Medals, NATO Medal, Combat Action Badge, Sapper Tab, and Engineer Dive Officer Badge.
Branen became deputy commander Aug. 3, 2020. His last assignment was as the Secretary of the General Staff for the 1st Cavalry Division Command Group.
(The public can obtain news, updates and information from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District on the district’s website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/nashvillecorps.)