David A. Bramlett General – An Officer and a Gentleman

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General David A. Bramlett

BY DUANE A. VACHON, PH.D.   Knowing General Bramlett personally I can vouch for the fact that he is truly an officer and a gentleman.  I first met General Bramlett in November of 2008 when as part of my duties at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific I assisted him in the inurnment service for his wife Judi.  Not only did the General have to deal with the loss of his wife but the service was conducted in one of the worst thunderstorms Honolulu had seen in years. The power went out, there was two inch’s of rain in an hour.  Through it all General Bramlett was an absolute gentlemen.

Over the years I had the opportunity to speak to General Bramlett on several occasions when he spoke at numerous ceremonies at the Cemetery. It always impressed me, as a fellow who reached the dizzy heights during my army career of  E-4, that a four star General remembered my name and always had time to say hello and ask how I was.


David Anthony Bramlett (born June 29, 1941) is a retired United States Army four-star general who commanded United States Army Forces Command from July 1, 1996 to August 31, 1998, after serving as Deputy Commander in Chief and Chief of Staff, United States Pacific Command at Camp H. M. Smith, Hawaii. During his tenure as Deputy Commander, he was the interim commander of Pacific Command after the commander, Admiral Richard C. Macke, came under fire for comments he had made in regard to the 1995 rape scandal in Okinawa that involved several U.S. servicemen

Entering the Army from Imperial Beach, California, Bramlett graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1964 and was commissioned a second lieutenant of Infantry. His first assignment was as a platoon leader in Company B, 1st Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii.

He served in Vietnam from December 1965 to November 1966, as aide-de-camp for the Assistant Division Commander, 25th Infantry Division, and later company executive officer, C/1-14 Infantry. His second tour, from September 1968 to August 1969, included rifle company command of C/2-327th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division and assistant brigade S-3, 1st Brigade.

Bramlett’s numerous command and staff positions include Commander, 1-503rd Infantry, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Commander, 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Commander, 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault); and as Commanding General, 6th Infantry Division (Light), Fort Wainwright, Alaska. He also served as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-1, 101st Airborne Division; and as Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3/Director Plans and Training, XVIII Airborne Corps, Fort Bragg.

His career also includes tours of duty as Deputy Director, Plans, Policy and Programs Directorate, United States Central Command, MacDill Air Force Base, Florida and Assistant Division Commander, 25th Infantry Division, Hawaii. Prior to assuming command of the 6th Infantry Division (Light), he was Commandant of Cadets, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York, from 1989 to 1992.

His instructor tours include the Florida Ranger Camp, 1967–68, and the Department of English at West Point for three years after earning a master’s degree from Duke University in 1972.

He attended the Advanced Course at the United States Army Armor School, the Command and General Staff College, and the Army War College.

Awards and decorations

Bramlett’s military awards include the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star with “V” device with five Oak Leaf Clusters, and the Defense Meritorious Service Medal. He also wears the Combat Infantryman Badge, Senior Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, and Ranger Tab.

Bramlett is the son of Mrs. Jayne E. Bramlett and the late Mr. Robert H. Bramlett, USN (retired), of National City, California. He has one son, Robert.

After retiring from the military, Bramlett became the vice president of the Hawaii Army Museum Society. He also currently serves as an adjunct professor at Hawaii Pacific University, teaching graduate seminars in U.S. Military History, the American Way of War and War Literature.

General Bramlett has remarried.  His wife is Dr. Nora Harmsen, DDS.  Like the General, Dr Harmsen is very community minded, she recently completely her seventh mission to the Marshall Islands to help those in need of dental care.



The information in this article was sourced from a variety of sources both internal and external. Every effort was made to ensure that the information is current and correct. These articles are presented to honor the heroes they are written about.





  1. General David A. Bramlett is a Soldier that I really admired. He was my Battalion Commander when I was station at Fort Cambell, Ky 42223. I was with the 1st Battalion (Airborne) 503d Infantry. I worked in the PAC, (Personnel Action Center) . I did a lot of letters and correspondence for General Bramlett. When I knew him, he was a LTC. I felt very proud to be behind him carrying that battalion flag in battalion runs. I held it high so everyone could see who was coming by them. I also had the privilege in marching LTC Bramlett and the Battalion on to the parade field when one of our first Sargeants from HHC 1/503d Infantry was retiring from the Army. Due to the fact that I played the snare drum and I was in a former Army Band. I knew all the required duties of a Pass and Review of troops. I retired in 1995 after 21 years of service. I had a lot of fun and memorable times with General Bramlett. He was my inspiration through the rest of my military carrier. Thank you so much General Bramlett for being a part of my life.

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