Monday, June 27, 2022

Ole Miss Army Captain Takes Command of Aviation Unit, Finds Success

 

Captain Sherika Bradford, Ole Miss alumna, is happy to serve in the U.S. Army.
Captain Sherika Bradford, Ole Miss alumna, is happy to serve in the U.S. Army.

Ole Miss alumna, Sherika Bradford, became army strong at the young age of 17 before joining the ROTC at The University of Mississippi, where she graduated as an officer in the United States Army in 2011.

Captain Bradford is a native of Charleston, Mississippi, where she attended grade school and was a member of the Spanish, drama, and science clubs and the National Honor Society. Bradford also participated on the basketball, track and powerlifting teams in her school. Upon graduating high school, Bradford knew she wanted to attend Ole Miss and join the Ole Miss ROTC Battalion.

“My father was military and played a large role in my decision to join. He never took off work for anything, but he did twice to take me to Ole Miss for a visit and my first day of orientation,” Bradford said. “We saw the ROTC building, and I told him that one day I would be an officer.”

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Bradford (far right) and her friends participate in a scavenger hunt while in college at Ole Miss.

Bradford said her father, a veteran of the Army, greatly influenced her decision to join the military. In his service, her father traveled frequently with the Army. Bradford recalls helping him unpack his bags and finding all the treasures he brought home.

“I would always help him unpack to get to all of the treasures he had,” Bradford said. “Before his duffel bag could be emptied, I would practically climb in it head first to help him speed up the process. If I had to do it all over again, it would still be the Army.”

Bradford officially joined the Ole Miss ROTC in 2008, where she started studying nursing after her admiration for her nursing mentors Lisa Moore and Melinda Morgan. After also taking psychology classes at Ole Miss, Bradford decided to change her major to psychology, another subject she really enjoyed- all while still in the Ole Miss ROTC.

Bradford's battle buddy had this patch made for her in Afghanistan.
Bradford’s battle buddy had this patch made for her in Afghanistan.

“The ROTC program at Ole Miss had a lot to offer. The path they laid out for cadets to transition was amazing,” Bradford said. “You were allowed to be a student first and gain a skillset to make you a leader on campus and in the military.”

According to Bradford, Ole Miss has a lot to offer academically and athletically, which she enjoyed. During her tenure at Ole Miss, Bradford also worked as a receptionist in the Student Housing Department, to which Bradford got to meet a lot of different people.

“My best experience at Ole Miss was Student Life. The diversity at Ole Miss is similar to that in the military,” Bradford said. “I truly believe Ole Miss has the greatest athletes and the best scholars. I just wish I could get back to the Grove or to visit the college more often because I made some of the best friends and lifelong military buddies at Ole Miss.”

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Bradford’s brick from the SAC in the Grove.

While in college, Bradford lost her father and her daughter in a tragic house fire. The University became like a family to her and helped her recover after her loss.

“The people at the University of Mississippi were very supportive of me during the loss of my father and my daughter in our tragic house fire,” Bradford said. “Ole Miss fosters an environment that is filled with a sense of family.”

Since graduating from Ole Miss, Bradford remains in the Army as a captain and has been serving for 10 years in the military. On March 8, she officially took command of the Headquarters and Headquarters Company (HHC) in the 2-82 Assault Helicopter Battalion, which is in the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade.

“I commissioned from Ole Miss as a Transportation Officer. Prior to that, I was a carpentry and masonry specialist usually training with engineers or working with mechanics. I just finished the Captains’ Career Course at Ft. Lee Virginia,” Bradford said. “As soon as I arrived at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, I sought to command. I actually spoke to a few commanders before arriving to look at what opportunities would be available to me. I knew I was coming to an aviation brigade, but I never imagined being the commander of the HHC.”

“It is great being a leader in the finest assault helicopter battalion in the Army,” Bradford said.

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Though she cannot do some things the women in the Air Force are allowed to do, like wear earrings, Bradford said the Army “has it all” and she could not see herself doing anything else.

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Future plans for Captain Bradford are to serve in the military to complete her 20 years of active duty service for retirement from the Army.

“I would someday like to assist in humanitarian missions outside of the United States,” Bradford said. “I participate in many service events within the U.S. in my personal time or through one of the many organizations I am a member of. Maybe I will be the Rebel Battalion Commander one day, who knows.”


Emily Newton is a staff writer for hottytoddy.com. and the editor of Experience Oxford magazine. She can be reached at emily.newton@hottytoddy.com.

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