Today is Thursday, September 18, 2014

Castle Heights alumni honor 1960 grad Bobby Bradley

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“Everybody in the family is showing up, including the nieces and nephews. One of the reasons they want to do it this year is because it’s his class’s 50th reunion year,” said John, who will share a few remarks from the family on Saturday.

“One of the board members, Frank Hartley, suggested that we add Bobby’s name,” said Rob Hosier, president of the association and a 1963 graduate. “We decided that would be appropriate. This is a family that sent five sons to Castle Heights, and Col. Leonard Bradley (Bobby’s father) was there from 1941 to 1973. They were just a fine family. Bobby was one of the finest people you ever wanted to know. He was a leader, a quiet leader, very unassuming.”

The war memorial service will take place at about 1:15 p.m. with comments from Hosier, John Bradley and a representative from the class of 1960. “Taps” will then be played from the steps of city hall.

The black granite memorial is located near the flagpole in the circle of land before Lebanon City Hall, which was originally the main building on the Castle Heights campus. Three panels on front of the memorial bear the names of 77 Castle Heights graduates who died serving the U.S during various conflicts: one in World War I, 69 in World War II, three in the Korean War and four during the Vietnam War.

Details about Bobby Bradley’s death were sketchy.

“The aircraft impacted to water and was destroyed,” John Bradley said. “Both the pilot and my brother, the radar intercept officer (RIO), were killed on impact. The Navy could not come to a conclusion on what happed to the airplane.

“They took off on Saturday night in an F-4B (nicknamed the Phantom II) from Naval Air Station Oceana in the area of Virginia Beach. They were ferrying an airplane to the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. It was not a landing accident. It went down about 10 miles from the carrier.

“They searched for about three days. A fishing boat found a small piece of the airplane, a survival kit and my brother’s helmet,” John said.

“Everybody that knew Bobby—whether in the family or people at Castle Heights, teachers, or people at church or people in Lebanon—everybody thought Bobby was so special, just the best of the entire family. We all saw him that way.”

Bobby was the second of six children born to the late Leonard and Mary Ann (Bryan) Bradley. Leonard, known as Col. Bradley to Heights students and staff, was a teacher and headmaster at the school for many years before helping establish Friendship Christian School in 1973 and serving as the school’s first headmaster with wife Mary Ann at his side as secretary.

All five Bradley sons graduated from Castle Heights and served in the U.S. military: Leonard Jr. (class of 1958) in the Army; Bobby in the Navy; John (1963) in the Air Force; Bill (1965) in the Air Force; and Tom (1969) in the Air Force.

The Bradley’s sixth child, daughter Mary Elizabeth, was a Lebanon High School graduate and played on the Blue Devilettes’ state championship basketball team in 1971.

“Bobby was extremely popular, practically the president or vice president of every organization he was in and captain or co-captain of every team he was on. He was a great guy and well liked by everybody,” John said. “We referred to him as the prince of the family. We all wanted to be like him.”

Ken Beck may be contacted at kbtag2@gmail.com.

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