Retired National Guardsman and wife know about patriotism
By Linda Petersen
MANTI—After 41 years of military service Alan Braithwaite knows a thing or two about patriotism. He first joined the National Guard (like many of his peers) for the money, but over the years it became something much greater to him.
“After 11 years of enlisted service, I thought that our country is worth serving and worth saving, so I became an officer,” he said.
Alan was a Guardsman for 25 years before he switched to the Army Reserves, where he served for 16 years. In his last five years in the Reserves he served in a two-year rotation backing up regular Army officers when they were sick or otherwise unable to perform their duties.
“That was a pretty neat experience,” he said.
In 2006 he served in Seoul as chief of munitions under U.S. Forces Korea as chief of munitions, where he was responsible for all ordinance except for missiles. He was also the chief U.S. negotiator working with South Korea on the demill of ammunition from Vietnam. While serving in that capacity, Gen. James Rogers asked him to go to work with him as chief of staff at Joint Munitions Command at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. He held that position for seven months.
Later, in 2009 Alan was deployed to Iraq for a year where he served as chief for plans and operations for LOGCAP (Logistics Civil Augmentation Program) Forward. In that capacity he oversaw contractors who provided everything the troops needed from housing to the most basic of supplies, he said. He was also responsible for training officers in logistics.
“We had a big job to cover,” he said. “Whatever the soldiers needed, we provided.”
Alan retired from the Army Reserves as a full colonel. He attended several army schools during his military career including the Army War College in Carlisle, Penn. He was honored with the Bronze Star Medal and Meritorious Service Medal for his work in Iraq and received the Joint Service Commendation Medal while in Korea. He received many other awards throughout his military career.
“I got to do so many things I’d never get to do in civilian life,” he said.
“At certain times it is really hard,” his wife Cecelia said of being left at home while her husband served in Korea and Iraq. “You just have to know and trust that they will be okay and return safely.”
Both Alan and Cecelia grew up in Manti and have lived their whole lives here except for four years after high school when they lived in Salt Lake City. Both have great-grandparents who came across the Plains with the early Latter-day Saints.
The two met at Manti High School and became high school sweethearts after Alan took Cecelia to his junior prom. After graduation, Alan attended Utah Technical College where he studied auto mechanics. The couple spent several years in Salt Lake City before returning to Manti.
During their time in Salt Lake, Cecelia worked as a dental assistant and later at Sperry, where she soldered components. After she returned to Manti, she again took up dental assistance in the medical program at the Central Utah Correctional Facility in Gunnison. She went on to spend 13 years as a teller at the Bank of Ephraim.
She has been very active in her LDS ward, serving in Young Women’s, Primary and Relief Society. Like many Manti residents, the Braithwaites have been very involved with the Manti Miracle Pageant over the years and have done everything from appearing in the Pageant to moving scenery and providing security.
In addition to his military service , Alan worked for several years with his brother in Owens Sports Center repairing ATVs and four-wheelers. He has served in various positions in the LDS Church including as ward clerk. He currently serves as secretary of his ward’s elders’ quorum. He and Cecelia also serve in the temple as baptistery directors and ordinance workers.
The couple has five children: Brett, Curt (Monica), Dave (Amy), Tom (Mandi) and Valerie (Brian). Curt served an initial six-year tour in the Guard. They have 17 grandchildren—11 boys and six girls.
“We love the country life,” Cecelia said. “We love Manti; we love the citizens. We’re just grateful that we were able to make a living and able to stay here and raise our family.”
As a member of the Freedom First Society, Alan has a particular passion for the U.S. Constitution. The Fourth of July celebration is a great way to honor the legacy of those who produced that document, he said.
“A bunch of our forefathers came together and pulled together the Constitution, a document inspired by God that gave us our freedom and liberty for over 235 years,” he said. “It’s extremely important that we stand and defend the Constitution and our way of life.”
“Manti is a great place to be,” he added. “We just appreciate people that will stand up for the Constitution and try and make our way of life better.”