Dave Brazel ’17: Cadet, Scholar, Athlete

The senior history major and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Cadet will be commissioned as an infantry officer upon graduation.
Posted on December 15th, 2016 by

Cadet Dave Brazel '17 traveled to the Czech Republic to complete a study away training program for the ROTC Military Science program at Mankato State University.

Not many college students know what their first post-grad job will be when they’re a first-year student, but Gustavus Adolphus College senior Dave Brazel always knew what was next. The history major is set to graduate this spring, but he signed the contract for his full-time job during his first semester on campus in 2013. As a Gustavus student and Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) Cadet at Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Military Science Program, Brazel competed for and was selected to serve four years of active service at the completion of his degree. In a few months, he will be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant, graduate, and begin his service as an infantry officer in the U.S. Army.

Cadet Dave Brazel was selected as the Battalion Commander in the fall of 2016.

For Brazel, this path has been determined for a long time.

“I was named after my grandfather, who served in the Army in field artillery, and it has always meant a great deal to me to be able to follow his legacy,” Brazel said. “It was just the start when I used to come home from the library as a kid with handfuls of books about World War II.”

Each week, Brazel joins 60 other Cadets from Gustavus, Minnesota State University, and Bethany Lutheran College for classes and training in Mankato and Saint Peter. Ranked as the highest Cadet in his class based on academics, leadership skills, and athletic abilities, he was selected as the Battalion Commander for the Maverick Battalion ROTC, increasing his responsibility for administration, training, and planning of the Battalion’s activities. This fall, he was also named a Distinguished Military Graduate, a prestigious honor awarded to only the top 20 percent of 5,500 graduating Cadets across 270 programs in the country.

“In my three years with the department, Cadet Dave Brazel is the most outstanding Cadet and future officer I have had the pleasure to train, mentor, and develop. He is a smart and articulate person, is highly respected by his peers, and does everything with 110 percent,” said Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Murphy, Executive Director and Professor of Military Science. “At the very core of his many accomplishments, he possesses outstanding character for a man of his age.”

When he is not in Mankato, he spends his time on the Hill just like every other student. He is studying Vietnam War POWs as he completes his senior thesis this month, and he works alongside his professors in the history department office. Brazel also serves as one of the team captains on the Gustavus Swim and Dive Team, practicing or competing nearly every day.

Brazel captains the Swim and Dive Team at Gustavus.

“I have learned a lot about myself. You are capable of a lot more than what you think you are,” Brazel said. “It has not been easy to make it all happen, but it is possible and I would certainly encourage everyone to stick with anything they want to pursue because it can all happen.”

As a part of his ROTC training, Brazel has traveled with a team to compete in three Ranger Challenge competitions at Camp Ripley in a series of fitness tests, obstacle courses, medical lanes, and land navigation tasks. As a junior, Brazel captained the team, leading a competitive preparation plan in the seven weeks prior to the event.

“Cadet Brazel is one of those people that lives to see what he is made of and to see how far he can push his limits in many different areas,” Lieutenant Colonel Murphy said. “His attitude and drive are contagious and help make him such a great teammate to his peers.”

In the spring of his freshman and sophomore year, Brazel was selected to travel with a partner to compete in the KU Buddy Ranger competition at the University of Kansas, another test of physical abilities, tactical skills, and grit. This spring, instead of a sixth competition, he is planning on attending the Bataan Memorial Death March in White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico in honor of those soldiers who were forced on the Bataan Death March during World War II.

Brazel poses with his team during the Ranger Challenge at Camp Ripley.

The summer after his sophomore year, Brazel traveled to the Czech Republic on a military to military mission through the Army’s Cultural Understanding and Language Proficiency Program. This year, he completed Advance Camp at Fort Knox in Kentucky where he trained with a platoon of 40 Cadets from across the country. During his shift as the platoon leader, he put everything he learned from his training with ROTC into use.

“I learned just how tough it is to lead people and motivate them to keep going when you are all at your body’s limit,” said Brazel.

Although he does not yet know where he will be commissioned as an Infantry Officer, he does have his sights set on completing the Combat Diver Qualification Course and Ranger School, two very challenging and physically demanding courses. For Brazel, they represent a chance to become the best officer he can be to serve his country.

Out of all of his accomplishments, Brazel believes the best part of his journey has been the people he has met, both at Gustavus and through the ROTC program.

“I know that wherever I end up, the friends I have made here will always pick up the phone. And that says a lot.” Brazel said. “Even in our very different futures, they are lifelong friends.”


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin



  1. Mark Juhan Sallmen says:

    As an Army vet, I wish you the best!!! My Army years were some of the best of my life and I learned so much. God bless you in your career!!!

  2. Evelyn Jerden says:

    Thank you for being willing to serve our country. You are an asset to Gustavus and it is great you chose the hill for your education. Good luck in your future endeavors both with the Army and your life in general.