Marine reflects on being drone operator

marine-corps-sealFor five years, Sgt. Christopher Braddock called the United States Marine Corps home. He worked multiple jobs for the Corps before he was finally assigned to operate a Silver Fox UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle).

Braddock enjoyed flying drones while he was in the Marine Corps and felt he was doing something important for his fellow Marines.

“Flying a drone is exciting because you are out there supporting your fellow brothers in arms,” Braddock said. “Sometimes it’s a bit boring because they want you on a target for days with nothing going on, then you have to take a step back and look at the big picture of what they are asking for.”

After his time with the Corps, Braddock went on to try his hand at college and quickly discovered he didn’t want to do that at the time. So, after one semester he found himself back serving his country, only this time it was as a contractor flying drones for the Department of Defense (DOD).

This job has kept him even busier than the Marine Corps.

“I have done nine deployments in the last three years to combat zones for the DOD,” Braddock said.

During one of his deployments, as a DOD drone operator, Braddock experienced an attack to the part of the base he was working on. He was walking back from the military store when all of a sudden a vehicle exploded into the wall near his operating area.

“When I was a contractor in Afghanistan, a vehicle-born improvised explosive device hit us with a follow on attack,” Braddock said. “As a contractor I couldn’t carry a weapon. It was frustrating. The attack lasted 10 minutes and they hit a section of the wall by the UAV flight line, right where we were, and came over the wall at us.

“The blast was so loud I had to check to make sure I had all my parts,” he continued. “Once we got near our compound the small arms fire started so I put pep in my step to get to cover.”

Being a drone operator is a challenging job that Braddock first started as a Marine and now continues as DOD contractor.
He is married with three boys and one more on the way. He and his family live in Bartlett.

Written by John Collins, special to the Express.