Challenger K-8 seventh grader, Nathaniel Bozek, was awarded first place in the annual Ken Fagan Lifetime Community Achievement Award essay contest, presented by the Veterans HEAT Factory. He read his winning essay, “Why Do We Honor Veterans,” at last week’s school board meeting.
Nathaniel then presented David Bratcher, a systems support specialist with Hernando Schools ESE Department, with the Veteran of the Month recognition plaque. Mr. Bratcher remarked that he was honored to have Nathaniel present it.
David Bratcher supports over 120 school district staff each day. He served in the US Marine Corps. His supervisor, Anna Jensen, explained that he is a retired chief warrant officer 3 with the US Marines. He joined the Marines in 1976 and completed boot camp as an honor grad at Paris Island, South Carolina. Dave was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant and later received the rank of warrant officer. He has served in the Mediterranean, Japan, Norway, the Caribbean, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Qatar, and Iraq. He was part of the evacuation of troops out of Somalia after Black Hawk Down. Out of his 22 years of service, he was deployed for 11. He retired from the Marines in 1998. Of his work for the school district, Jensen says, “He is always there to support and problem solve with a smile. Dave is honorable, dependable, and hard-working.”
Bratcher thanked the board and the school district for recognizing veterans every month at the school board meetings. He also thanked his ESE team for the important work they do to help their students. Of his lengthy deployment, he said, “You can’t do that unless you have a home support team.” He recognized his wife Simone, a Hernando High School graduate. “She raised the family. I intruded when I came back,” he joked.