By: Preston Mangus
The “Hail and Farewell” is a storied military event that heralds the entrance of a new leader and recognizes the accomplishments of the departing one. It is that time at VyStar Credit Union’s Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) branch.
On Friday, April 19, 2019, Brad Smith officially retired from his position as Branch Vice President and Military Liaison of our NAS Jax branch, where he has served for the last eight years. Brad started his military career at the U.S. Naval Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1980. A career Naval Flight Officer, Brad flew the S-3 Viking from numerous aircraft carriers deployed around the world, including combat missions during Operation Desert Storm. His leadership skills led him to command the VS-31 Topcats from 1996 to 1999. After completing his U.S. Naval War College graduate degree, Brad served as Director of Naval Command College in Newport, Rhode Island. There, he directed a graduate education and security cooperation program for 150 senior military officers from 91 nations.
Brad joined VyStar in 2011 as NAS Jax Branch Vice President. He enjoyed the unique relationship and responsibility that came with leading VyStar’s first-ever branch, which opened in 1952. The ability to give special recognition, appreciation, and financial education and counseling to our military members and base support staff has been a source of pride for Brad during his tenure.
Back at NAS Jax, Brad’s role has now been filled by Captain Robert “Bob” Sanders, who brings a great deal of military experience and expertise to the branch. After his commissioning, Bob was selected to fly the fearsome F-14 Tomcat fighter. In fact, he was the first pilot to drop a live weapon from the Tomcat in training. In his 30 years of Navy service, Bob has amassed an impressive resume:
Bob was appointed as the Commanding Officer of NAS Jax from 2010 to 2013, during which time he escorted dignitaries ranging from U.S. presidents, senators and congressmen to top Navy brass.
Bob has a strong desire to help military members and veterans improve their financial literacy and situations. He is looking forward to being a member of VyStar’s NAS Jax branch, and will continue to focus on enhancing the experience of members and employees. Bob will also preside over the in-branch integration of a Starbucks franchise, while also undertaking a total branch renovation.
With Brad’s prior steady stewardship and Bob’s expansive experience, it looks like continued smooth and productive sailing at VyStar’s NAS Jax branch. VyStar thanks Brad for his commendable service, and wishes him fair winds and following seas for his new life chapter.
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