Campus Celebrity, Bart Braden

If you’ve spent time in the MSC, you may have noticed this man around before. He’s usually holding a small bouquet of flowers he’s handpicked himself, and wearing an A&M t-shirt, running shorts and sneakers. You may also know him as the "pole guy" for his ability to hold himself horizontal on a pole, and lots of street signs in town. Well, I’ve spent my last few years here very curious about this man, up until recently. His name is Bart Braden. Bart and I have chatted a few times in the past weeks and through his chatty personality, he’s revealed to me a man of integrity, pride, and a whole lot of humor. You may have talked with him before, and if so, you know his two favorite topics are the military and women.

Bart is an 82-year-old war veteran, with stories that go on for days—whether about his past or history itself. He was a personnel officer in three different wars beginning in 1951 in the Korean war. Vietnam came after that where he continued serving as a personnel officer and gained recognition as a three stripe sergeant. He served his final duty in the desert storm war during his 50s. Eventually after 11 promotions, Bart was given the honor of Chief Warrant Officer Grade 5.

Once he turned 60, Bart was required to retire under military law (peace time, as it's called), but through dedication and stubbornness, Bart explained his attempts to “unretire” by taking and passing physical fitness tests and out-running the trainees. Still at 82, he would go back to duty in a heartbeat if given the chance.

Around 1976, Bart came to Texas A&M; however, he only took aerobic running classes. To this day, he continues taking aerobic running classes, and running three miles a day. He claims to have never missed a class in 22 years. He also attends many of the running events hosted by A&M, along with others. With all of this running, Bart has ran over 100 miles, and doesn't plan on stopping anytime soon. In addition to that, he claims to be the oldest basketball referee in the area. He’s not one to give up incase you haven’t noticed. Age is just a number, in Bart's eyes.

Bart enjoys sharing his experience in the military and at A&M, but there’s also a very humorous side of him to appreciate. Well, I say humorous, but he says weakness. In Bart’s words these weaknesses include “drinking two beers every night…buying a new custom Lincoln every three years” and my personal favorite, “…finding an Aggie mom who looks better than her daughter.” He even claims to be a “butt expert.” Can’t blame him, can you? Gotta stay young somehow. And that’s his claim to health: beer, cars and using the eyes God gave him. Oh, and running, of course! Age doesn’t seem to change much about a man, from what I’ve learned from Bart.

Aside from all of that, I gained a lot of respect for him through his knowledge, and passion for sharing it, and, of course, his service. But one thing stood out to me. Every day that Bart is on campus, he goes to the back of the MSC to salute the Medal of Honor winners. That’s the most important daily ritual of his—to honor and show respect for those who deserve it the most. I took a lot from my talks with Bart, including copious amounts of respect for what he believes in and stands for. He ended our talk by saying “I’m proud to have served my country in three wars, I’m proud to be an American, and I’m proud to have good health.” And then he handed me one of the flowers he had picked.