Alumni in the Spotlight

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Major General Barbara C. Brannon

B.S., Nursing, '72

Major General Barbara Brannon served for 31 years in the U.S. Air Force, rising through the ranks to become Assistant Air Force Surgeon General for Medical Force Development and Assistant Air Force Surgeon General for Nursing. In these roles, she provided policy, program oversight and career management for tens of thousands of active duty Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve nursing personnel.

Throughout her distinguished military career, she received numerous awards and decorations, including the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal with silver oak leaf cluster.

She has been described as “a great American and a true military heroine” by Senator Daniel Inouye. She was the first nurse — and the first woman — to command an Air Force Medical Center. She rose through the ranks and became the first nurse in the history of the Air Force to become a Major General and the first two-star general chief of the Air Force Nurse Corps. In other words, Major General Barbara Brannon flew about as high as any nurse in our military possibly could.

A Bay Area native who found her calling early, Brannon excelled in the nursing program at SF State and graduated with honors in 1972. Within a few years she would find herself in the Intensive and Coronary Care Unit at Andrew’s Air Force Base in Maryland, newly minted as an Air Force First Lieutenant.

From there the promotions followed — Captain, Major, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, Brigadier General — and finally Major General. So too did the assignments — seven more states, including Nebraska, California, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Wyoming, and Oklahoma, as well as the District of Columbia; High Wycombe, England; and Aviano, Italy. In the midst of this, she found the time to earn another degree: a master’s in cardiovascular nursing from UCSF.

Within the confluence of the medical field and the military complex, Brannon flourished. Her passion for her work and talent as a leader brought her to ever increasing positions of authority, culminating in her appointments as Assistant Air Force Surgeon General for Nursing and Assistant Air Force Surgeon General for Medical Force Development. In these dual roles, Barbara’s work directly impacted tens of thousands of medical professionals responsible for providing the highest degree of combat readiness and effectiveness for Air Force personnel. Her mission was to ensure a “fit and fighting force.”

Decorated with numerous awards and medals and at the pinnacle of her career, Brannon decided to retire from the Air Force in 2005. She has continued to serve her “military family” in her second career – one that is a labor of love.

For much of the past decade, Barbara has been president and CEO of Falcon’s Landing, a residential community for retired and honorably discharged military officers from all branches of service, as well as for senior-level federal retirees and their spouses.

Located up the Potomac River from our nation’s capital, Falcon’s Landing is a place where veterans can enjoy the best years of their lives among the company of others who share much in common. It is also a place where Barbara can continue to put her numerous talents to work in the service of others, promoting the health, wellness, and best possible quality of life for our veterans and their families.

Within her own family, she and her husband, Stan, are the proud parents of Air Force Captain Alex Brannon, who carries on the family’s tradition of service to the military and to our country.