Picayune’s own is selected Admiral

Published 7:11 pm Wednesday, May 30, 2007

“I really love what I do,” Ted Branch told his dad, Frank Branch. “I can hardly believe they pay me for doing something that I love to do.”

There is a very elite group of men in the Navy. Only fourteen men in history have had the privilege of being captain of the USS Nimitz which was commissioned in July of 1972. The thirteenth captain was one of Picayune’s own, Ted Branch, son of Frank and Dana Branch of Picayune. The change of command on March 16, was followed by Branch’s selection to be promoted to Rear Admiral.

Branch graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1979. After his stint in Navy Military Personnel Command, he pursued flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator in August 1981. He logged combat duty over Grenada and Lebanon while he was with the Valions of VA-15.

In 1985, he joined the Hellrazors of Va-174 as an instructor pilot, Weapons Training Officer and Weapons Training Phase Head.

Branch then reported for duty aboard the USS Forrestal (CV 59) as the Assistant Navigator. He took A7 refresher training at VA-122 at NAS Lemoore, Calif. then did a tour as Department Head as well as various administrative positions.

He earned his master’s degree at the War College and returned to Cecil Field in August 1992. He attended Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk.

He reported as Executive Officer of VFA-15 in October 1993 and assumed command in 1995. His command of the Valions included work-ups and combat deployment in Operation Southern Watch from the Red Sea and Persian Gulf, and Operation Deliberate Force in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

His duties included Joint Staff in Washington, Nuclear Power training, Executive Officer of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), USS Coronado (AGF 11), and Commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet’s Executive Assistant in September 2002. In 2004, He assumed command of the USS Nimitz (CVN 689).

While commanding the USS Nimitz, they won the Battle Efficiency and Flatley Awards, and the Golden Anchor for retention excellence. He is temporarily assigned to the Naval Air Forces staff.

Rear Adm. (Sel) Branch’s decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Strike Flight Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat “V”, Navy Achievement Medal, and various unit and campaign awards.

Rear Adm. (Sel) Ted Branch moved to Picayune with his family when he was one year old. They lived here for six years then moved to Long Beach where he graduated.

(Rear Adm. (Sel) Branch’s biography is taken from www.navy.mil)