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Family donates graduate’s military memorabilia to State Tech
On May 27, on behalf of the late Private First Class Ralph Alton Branson, Jr. and his family, State Technical College of Missouri was presented for safekeeping the memorabilia of Ralph Branson, Jr.
Memorabilia donated to the STC
Archives on behalf of the family of Ralph
Branson Jr. included photographs,
newspaper articles, design drafting
drawings and Branson’s Bronze Star
Branson graduated from State Technical College of Missouri (STC), formerly Linn Technical College, in 1967 with a degree in Design Drafting Technology.
Branson’s sisters, Anita Honse and Brenda Forbis, along with other family members, presented Dr. Donald Claycomb, STC President, with a collection of their brother’s drawings he had completed while at the college, a collage of photographs and Branson’s Bronze Star Medal from the Vietnam War.
“My brother was proud of many things, one of which was this school,” said Forbis. “He loved coming to school here at Linn Tech.”
“He would want the school to have these items,” said Honse. “He would be very pleased we gave them to the college for safekeeping.”
Branson was the son of Ralph and Lucy Branson. Growing up in Vienna, MO, he was the youngest of five children and the only son.
Branson’s father owned the local Western Auto store in Vienna. Branson was needed at home to help with the store. “Moving to Linn was not an option for my brother,” said Honse. “He would drive back and forth from Vienna every day to attend class.”
“He never grew tired of it,” said Forbis.
Immediately following graduation, Branson was employed with the United State Corps of Engineers in St. Louis, MO. Less than three months later, Branson was drafted into the United States Army and soon was deployed to Vietnam.
On March 11, 1968, the family was notified that Branson had been taken to a hospital in Japan as a result of burns sustained over eighty percent of his body.
“We all gathered together and waited,” said Forbis. “When we saw the two soldiers walk up to the door, we already knew what had happened.”
On March 17, 1968, Branson died at the age of 20. “He’s forever 20 years old to us,” commented Honse.
Branson was given a military funeral and posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal for heroism. The local community collected money and constructed a memorial in honor of Branson. The memorial stands in the courthouse square in Vienna.
“The presentation of memorabilia by the family was a moving experience for all involved,” said Claycomb. “It was a touching honor to hear these ladies speak of how much their brother loved this college and to know that their little brother would want his most prized possessions left to us.”
In addition to the memorabilia, Branson’s family is in the process of establishing a memorial scholarship in honor of their brother with the Foundation for Linn State Technical College.
With more than 25 programs, State Technical College of Missouri is Missouri’s only public two-year technical college with a statewide mission. STC has campuses in Linn, Mexico and Jefferson City. STC prepares students for profitable employment and a life of learning.
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