Service & Sacrifice: The Comeback Cadet

11:09 PM, Mar 7, 2013   |    comments
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After a motorcycle wreck that crushed his back and tore up one of his knees, Brandon Abrao faced a recovery that threatened to derail his dream of piloting a plane in the Air Force.

"I'd fly anything but I think I'd be happiest with something that goes fast," said the 21-year-old cadet in the ROTC program at the University of Tennessee.

During our on camera interview, Cadet Abrao looks back at his recovery over the last year and a half.  It is one his commanders call, "remarkable." 

Now in his junior year at UT he has managed to stay on a path to becoming a military flyer and even secured a coveted "pilot slot" in the Air Force assuming the 3.7 GPA student graduates and passes one more flying physical.

In addition to the on camera interview, he took time out of his studies and physical training to answer the 10 questions below that offer more perspective on his life.

1. What one person influenced you most in life?
That would definitely be dad. His work ethic. Raising three kids by himself without much money I know that was extremely stressful but he didn't show it. He raised me with all the qualities I have today.

2. Do you feel honored and respected for serving your country?
Oh yea. I get it all the time even though I haven't gone active duty yet. People in East Tennessee are very respectful.

3. How can people thank you for your service?
Every time I'm in uniform people thank me. Donate to Wounded Warrior Project or others that support the troops.

4. How do you honor your fellow service men and women?
One thing I do is the Mountain Man Memorial March helping run that in Gatlinburg. I'm going to run this year for a Gold Star family to honor their loved one who was killed in combat.
Just wearing the uniform the proper way with all the customs and courtesy's. Keeping up with traditions.

5. How do you think older generations of military service men and women is different or similar to yours?
Technology has changed so much.  That is a huge difference. Maybe my generation is more technologically advanced.
I need more experience before answering much more about those differences.

6. What influence is your military service having on the rest of your life?
It has made me a lot more structured. I'm a lot more responsible and have a greater attention to detail when it comes to everything.

7. Does your family have a history of military service?
I have a brother in the Marines. He has done a tour in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. He is now in college on the GI Bill. My sister is a sub hunter on a Navy plane. She has served close to four years. Before them I can't think of any immediate family members who served.

8. Would you encourage younger generations in your family to join the service?
Definitely. I have a little brother graduating high school. We have the Marines, Navy, and Air Force covered so maybe he'll join the Army or the Air Force.

9. How has your opinion of war changed given your willingness to serve your country?
It is just know that you are not invincible. It is a realization of what you have committed to do. That has hit home.

10. What is one fact people should know about you that most don't?
Last time I counted I have moved 28 times, state to state in 21 years.


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