Ol' Army Spirit
Tradition lives through honorary Corps member
Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 00:11
Fighting the battle of sleeping through formation versus finding the will to come to life at 5:30 a.m. every day is a battle for some Corps of Cadets members. Even if they had a choice to begin with, waking up before the crack of dawn wins every time.
Although cadets are required to be at formation in the morning alongside their outfits, one man voluntarily stands in the background at every Corps formation, morning and night.
“When he first started coming, they thought he had a son or brother in the Corps or something, but he didn’t,” said Eric Gil, senior industrial distribution major and sergeant major of the Corps.
Albert Bradley, often referred to as “Ol’ Army Al,” has been attending the Corps formations since 1974 — the year he became a permanent resident of College Station.
He was awarded for his honorary service this past Saturday before the Missouri game. Bradley was presented with the Saber Award, which consisted of a shadow box with medals, a campaign cover band and tags stamped with his name. He also received a framed and mounted saber with a sheath.
Typically, when a student hears about someone so dedicated to a particular section of A&M culture, they assume the person is an Aggie. Uncommonly enough, Bradley never attended the University.
“My early morning routine began when I was a senior in high school,” Bradley said. “They told me I could have an agriculture job for a year and then graduate. So I went to work on an Amish farm in Philadelphia, where I had to get up at 5 a.m. and I milked cows twice a day, every day.”
Bradley’s adventures continued after graduation. After making only a dollar a day at the farm with the addition of room and board, Bradley joined the National Guard, but was only able to serve for one year due to downsizing.
Soon after, he took a job at a large horse ranch. He said that the ranch had 50 brood mares and his job was breeding and delivering foals. Farm life gave Bradley the skills he would later need to obtain two different mechanic jobs at engineering companies.
His travels did not stop there.
In 1963, Bradley lunged into his first attempt to affiliate with A&M by looking for a job at the university. After not receiving one, he remained in the area and found Grace Bible Church instead.
“I met a missionary who told me to get involved,” Bradley said. “It was a challenge. I ended up going to the Middle East to help drive trucks for literature distribution.”
Bradley said after working in the Middle East for 11 years and traveling to places from London to Iran, he returned to College Station in 1974.
“He’s a reminder that your dedication doesn’t stop here; it continues for years to come,” said Crystal Perez, junior biology major and operations sergeant for the Corps. “He is always here to encourage you if you have any problems.”
Bradley has dedicated a large part of his life to the Corps by continuing his missionary work at A&M. He has transitioned his missionary work toward members of the Corps, befriending them and discussing life issues.
“We talk mostly about what’s happening — mainly girlfriends,” Bradley said. “I don’t push the gospel. If they want to talk, they will come to me.”
Because he was never married due to what he called his “traveling ways,” Aggies became family to him — so much that he had extra rooms added to a house in the community and took in fifth-year students he had befriended.
With a smile spread across his face, Bradley said he had even helped a couple of Corps members meet their wives and one couple named their first child after him.
“He’s kind of a tradition here,” Perez said.
Bradley is a common figure on standby in the Quad, which has enabled him to interact with cadets on a daily basis. He said he couldn’t begin to count how many students he knows on a personal level.
“He’s always motivating and saying ‘hi,’” said Fernando Aguilera, senior aerospace engineering major and operations and training officer for the Corps. “He never had the opportunity to come here and be in the Corps, so I thought we needed to give him something to let him know how much we appreciate him.”
With the help of cadets, the presentation was put together and planned out.
“I didn’t know I was getting it,” Bradley said. “They just told me to be here around 2:30. When they brought me to the cannon [to present the award] I couldn’t talk. I just cried.”