His father never told him to follow in his footsteps, but Rear Adm. Steve Branham always felt a pull toward the Coast Guard.
“It was a natural thing,” Branham said. “My brother joined as well, so, between the three of us, I think we’ve got a total of 106 years in the Coast Guard.”
In 1973, Branham entered the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. After spending four years there as a cadet, he was assigned to his first ship for a two-year tour. Altogether, he served six tours of duty with the U.S. Coast Guard, totaling 12 years of sea service in the Pacific, Atlantic and Caribbean regions.
He spent those years on various cutters, ranging in size from 95 feet to 378 feet, and provided drug law enforcement, migrant interdiction, search and rescue, marine safety and pollution cleanup. His dedication and leadership moved him up the ranks, culminating at the senior executive level as a two-star admiral.
Today, he is the vice president of government relations at Witt O’Brien, a disaster-response company formed in January. It mainly handles man-made and natural disasters, including oil spills, hurricanes and floods.
Branham has lived on Longboat Key for nearly two years since marrying Susan Phillips, a longtime resident and assistant to the town manager.
The pair is involved in the community, with Phillips serving on the board of the Longboat Key Garden Club and Branham as director of the Sarasota Yacht Club’s Charitable Foundation. Although they enjoy membership in other organizations on the Key, they’re always looking for more ways to support the community they love.
“I’m happy to be here on Longboat Key,” Branham says. “I’m involved in a few things now, but I’m really just starting to get rolling.”
NEIGHBORHOOD: Island Court
YOUR NEIGHBOR SINCE: 2011
IN HIS OWN WORDS: “Life in the military has its challenges, but it’s a good career. It was good to me, and it was good to my family.” — Steve Branham
Contact Kelsey Grau at [email protected]