I enlisted as an 11C, or Indirect Fire Infantryman, at the start of my senior year of high school in September of 2017. I was 17 years old at the time, and excited to see what the Army National Guard could teach me and the opportunities it could give me. After finishing my senior year of school, I went to basic training in Fort Benning, Georgia. I was there for a little over 3 months. I learned a lot there about how to do my job, be a part of a team, how to eat a full meal in under 5 minutes while someone yells at me and what makes the grass grow. When I graduated from training, I returned home, to my first unit, Charlie Company 2-135 Infantry Regiment. As I learned the history of my new unit, I could not have been more proud of the fact that I was serving in the battalion that was the direct descendent of the First Minnesota Volunteer Regiment, that was instrumental in many battles of the Civil War.

I was informed early, upon my arrival to my unit, that I would be deploying to Africa in 2020. I was excited to be deploying so soon in my career. My report date was June 1, 2020, which happened to be my 20th birthday. It was during the height of Covid, so upon reporting everyone immediately received a Covid test. After about a month and a half of training at Camp Ripley, then Fort Bliss, Texas. We finally arrived in Africa. Africa was boring as far as military related things. But as a 20 year old that had never experienced a different culture or left the United States before, it was shocking and amazing.

I was injured only a few short months into the deployment. I was rushed to the EMF (Emergency Medical Facility) where I underwent my first surgery. I spent 5 days in Africa before I was flown to Landstuhl, Germany where I underwent a second surgery. In total I spent roughly 3 weeks in Germany. I was then flown back to the States and became a resident of Walter Reed Naval Hospital. While I was three I had one job and that was to recover as soon as possible. I spent a little over 3 months in Walter Reed. I then finally was sent home to Minnesota for the remainder of my recovery. The entire recovery took about a year and a half to finish.

This last summer I was once again given an opportunity to go overseas for a training exercise with North Macedonian Forces. I was training there in the mountains of North Macedonia for a little under 3 weeks. It greatly expanded my knowledge and experience in my job. While I was there, I was approached by my unit’s Retention NCO, the man in charge of keeping service members in the military. He told me my contract was almost up and he asked what he could do to get my to reassign. I could hardly believe it had been 6 years since I first enlisted at 17 years old. He convinced me to sign for another 4 years. He did this by getting me a transfer to a unit closer to home, 1-194 INF based out of Brainerd. While I was sad to be leaving the history of 2-135 behind, I was also excited to better understand the history of my new unit. While my time with the new unit is still beginning, I’m hopeful of what my future in the Army holds for me.

As for now, Brady works at two homeless shelters in Brainerd. He is the grandson of Joanne Picker from our unit, the Deer Creek Auxiliary Unit 283.