NASHVILLE, Tenn. (May 13, 2022) – Members of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District bid farewell to the deputy commander during a ceremony today at the district headquarters.
Lt. Col. Nathan Branen, deputy commander, culminates nearly two years of service to the Nashville District. His next move is to Fort Bliss, Texas, where he is taking command June 24 of the 40th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss, Texas.
During the ceremony, Lt. Col. Joseph Sahl, Nashville District commander, presented the Meritorious Service Medal to Branen on behalf of Col. Kimberly A. Peeples, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Great Lakes and Ohio River Division commander. The award recognizes Branen’s extraordinary leadership and tireless work ethic that ensured the district’s success across its diverse and complex missions.
Sahl noted during the ceremony how Branen, also a lieutenant colonel, was a humble servant that made an impact servicing the Nashville District and supporting the vision and intent for both the previous commander and for him.
“It’s not just following my lead, and letting me lead,” Sahl said. “It’s also supporting it and driving it and making it a reality.”
Sahl said Branen could take intent and do something with it. He could do that without a lot of follow up and didn’t require a lot of affirmation, he stressed.
“And that is a unique blend, I’ll tell you, in a deputy,” Sahl said. “Nate just humbly and graciously and kindly worked with me. The thing that I think that resonates with me the most with Lieutenant Colonel Branen is that he just has a heart for service.”
Stephanie Hall, Nashville District deputy district engineer, thanked Branen for taking interest, for his outward personality, which helped make her transition to her position during the pandemic less difficult.
“You made a difficult introduction and assimilation into the district easy as it could be under the circumstances that we were all trying to navigate,” Hall said. “We were talking all the time about how to take care of people, and all those things, and it was a joy to work with you through that because your investment and interest in the people you work with and for was sincere. It was thoughtful and always kind.”
Branen thanked everyone across the Nashville District and friends and family in attendance both in the room and virtually online.
“What I need to thank all of you for, are being the people that took me by the hand and helped us move forward as a team,” Branen said.
He said he appreciated the opportunity to work for the commander, while giving credit to everyone in the district for accomplishing and doing things in support of the Corps of Engineers’ missions.
Branen said his biggest accomplishment was to work with other leaders in the organization to invest in employees, to acknowledge their work and ensure they have the resources, education, the things that they need.
“I think the deputy is part of that investment,” Branen stressed. “The deputy is there to ensure that the things that need to get done, get done… helping to synchronize and come up with direction for the corporate board. That’s the investment back from the organization to the employees.”
In his closing comments, Branen said, “Thank you again so much. I will miss you and it will be tough to drive away tomorrow.”
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.)