FORT BELVOIR, Va. –
A patriot, devoted husband and father, Army Col. Gary Bradley was posthumously inducted into the Defense Logistics Agency Energy Hall of Fame for his dedication and service to his country.
Bradley was the commander of the Defense Energy Support Center Region Europe & Africa when he died on Sept. 9, 1998, as the result of an untimely accident when he was on temporary duty in Tunisia, Africa.
“He was the most caring, patriotic and positive person I’ve ever met,” said his widow, Yusuk Bradley. “His children were everything to him; he was the most selfless man and a good Christian.”
As an Army petroleum officer, Bradley served in challenging joint and combined assignments over the course of a 24-year military career.
Bradley was enthusiastic in his role as a leader, his wife explained. She shared his command presentation that outlined his priorities, expectations of people and leadership hints.
“Know what you want to happen (vision), make decisions fast (you will never have all the information), keep it simple, be flexible, expect something to get screwed up, develop contingencies, get near the action, develop priorities and generate enthusiasm,” Bradley wrote.
Early in his career as a junior Army officer, Bradley served as a quality assurance representative in the Middle East area of responsibility where he inspected and distributed DLA fuel under challenging conditions. His career continued as the operations and maintenance officer with the NATO Central Europe Pipeline System, one of the largest and most complex pipeline systems in the world, with fuel operations in Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.
“He was open and approachable and served as a role model for all,” said DLA Energy U.S. Transportation Command Liaison Officer Frank Wright, who wrote and prepared Bradley’s Hall of Fame nomination package. “He was a natural mentor to his junior officers, non-commissioned officers and civilian personnel in Korea, Okinawa and Bahrain.”
As the commander of the 505th Quartermaster Battalion, Okinawa, Japan, the Army’s last and most diversified active petroleum command, (then Lt. Col.) Bradley was always thinking of ways to get the job done. In fact, to compensate for a shortage of JP-8 in Okinawa he had the vision to convert Jet-A1 into JP-8. The 505th was responsible for six hardened fuel terminals, 100 miles of pipeline, a mono-buoy discharge system and an area petroleum laboratory. The battalion directly supported DLA Energy by providing inland distribution of more than 56 million gallons of DLA-owned peacetime operating stock and petroleum war reserves.
In 1995, Bradley was assigned to Headquarters, Defense Fuel Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, as the Business Enterprise Office director, optimizing his extensive training and vast technical expertise.
In July 1996, Bradley’s aspiring career peaked as the Defense Energy Support Center Europe & Africa Commander responsible for all DLA fuel support to the U.S. European Command. He supported the NATO-led Bosnia peacekeeping campaign (Operation Joint Endeavor) and later the Kosovo peacekeeping missions. Under Bradley’s leadership, DLA Energy established the NATO fuel support mission in Split, Croatia, successfully supporting coalition forces with volunteers from DLA Energy. These efforts provided unparalleled support to all NATO partners, eliminated redundancy and inefficiency and resulted in millions of dollars in cost savings.
“Throughout Gary’s career, he tirelessly focused on sustaining combat readiness and enhancing mission operations while providing efficient and effective fuel support to the warfighter,” Wright said.
Mark Iden, a former DLA Energy Supplier Operations director, served under Bradley when he was the Business Enterprise Office director at Defense Fuel Supply Center, Fort Belvoir, Virginia, and later became his deputy at Defense Energy Support Center Region Europe & Africa.
“His expectation of people was (for them) to have a positive winning attitude, demonstrate professional expertise and show dedication, responsibility and loyalty,” Iden said. “As the DESC regional commander, Bradley’s top priorities were providing fuel at the right place and time needed and taking care of command personnel and their families.”
Retired Army Colonel Ivan Bolden and his wife attended the Hall of Fame ceremony in memory of Bradley.
“I met Gary in 1994 when I was the Carlisle Barracks garrison commander, and he was attending the Army War College,” Bolden said. “He was a tremendous athlete who could do anything and do it well, and one of the kindest-hearted people I knew. I believed he was on track to be the DLA commander one day.”
As Bradley’s seminar adviser, Bolden witnessed Bradley’s leadership propel his seminar class to a high level.
“Gary excelled academically and athletically, and was the team leader responsible for the Army winning the coveted annual Jim Thorpe All-Service Athletic Competition,” Bolden said. “His seminar class won everything that year, from chili cook-offs to athletic events.”
Bolden and his wife established close bonds with Bradley and his family.
“We were friends of the family,” Bolden said. “When the tragic accident occurred, we were stationed in Europe and were among the first people to comfort his family.”
In an emotional speech, Bradley’s oldest son, Chad, talked about his father and family memories during the Hall of Fame ceremony.
"On behalf of the Bradley family I want to thank everyone for attending, especially colleagues and friends. As I was flying to the ceremony with my brother and sister, we shared a lot of memories of vacations, skiing trips and playing cards. Those are the memories I still cherish. I know my dad worked hard. Many of you who worked with him know how hard he could be. (Laugh) But he wasn’t a leader that yelled. He just got the job done. When he was nominated for the Hall of Fame, I thought long and hard and talked with my sons about it ... the Hall of Fame is pretty cool. I knew he had earned it because you can’t write the history of the Defense Logistics Agency or military logistics without my dad in it. My dad used to tell my brother Josh that ‘Imitation is the height of flattery.’ We try to imitate my dad every day. Dad, we all love you. We miss you. And we’re proud of you."