Defender continues family legacy, seeks to pay it forward

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Longfellow
  • 21st Space Wing Public Affairs

Family business is as any business in which two or more family members are involved and the majority of ownership or control lies within a family.

Yet this is how 1st Lt. Kyle Brandt, 21st Security Forces Squadron operations officer at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station, Colorado, explains why he commissioned in the U.S. Air Force in May 2017.

“I have been raised to believe that service to our country was a great honor,” Brandt said. “My uncle graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1974. When I was younger, he took me to one of his reunions. I was awestruck and knew it was what I wanted to do with my life.”

He wanted to continue the family legacy with a life of service and gain an appreciation for the freedoms that the U.S. are afforded, Brandt said. His number one career preference out of college was security forces.

“I was absolutely stoked when I was selected for it,” Brandt said. “I had a bunch of mentors, both officer and senior non-commissioned officers, who were security forces, and they hooked me ever since.”

The security forces career field carries the ‘Command Early, Command Often’ mentality. Brandt said he wanted the challenge of leading Airmen in the defense of the U.S. military installations and assets.

Along with being an operations officer, Brandt is responsible to the commander for all of the defenders who are posted on Cheyenne Mountain AFS. He works with the operations superintendent and non-commissioned officer-in-charge of operations to ensure the day-to-day security requirements for the complex are complete. The Airmen’s morale, health, welfare, knowledge and duty performances are all within his wheelhouse.

“I spend a lot of time learning from our Airmen, NCO and SNCOs about best practices for mission accomplishment and how we can improve,” Brandt said. “I am a firm believer in the ‘it takes a village’ mentality, and I think it applies very well to the development of security forces officers. I try to learn as much as I can from everyone I meet; they all have something to offer.”

Brandt’s greatest accomplishments revolve around his Airmen’s successes.

“Watching two of my troops secure two out of four available senior airman below-the-zone stripes was pretty awesome,” Brandt said. “They worked very hard for it, and it felt good to know that we created an environment on flight that allowed them to perform at their best level, both professionally and personally, and to be rewarded for the hard work.”

Brandt’s single biggest struggle of his career came when one of his former Airmen died by suicide.

“I didn’t see it coming, and I am not sure anyone else did either,” Brandt said. “The mix of emotions that came afterwards was overwhelming. I was angry…I was devastated…I was confused and unsure of myself.”

He wondered what signs he missed and what he could have done to help. He began second-guessing decisions he made and was hesitant to make decisions going forward.

“I was fortunate to be part of an incredible team that rallied around each other,” Brandt said. “Slowly, we taught each other that we had to do the best we could in each moment, each decision point, and that was the best way to honor his memory.”

Brandt lives by a quote by the Shawnee Chief Tecumseh, ‘Seek to make your life long, and its purpose in the service of your people’.

Not only is Brandt an Airman, he also spends his time volunteering as a firefighter and emergency medical technician.

“In my opinion, there is no better way to say thank you than to pay it forward,” Brandt said. “I have been given many gifts and blessings in my life. and I try to give them back to my community, my state, my country through dedicated service.”