MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Ronald Bradley was born in North Carolina but came to Myrtle Beach in the sixth grade. He graduated from Myrtle Beach High School and the University of South Carolina. Then, he joined the Marines.
"If I’m going to be in a combat zone I want to make sure I’m with a good unit, so I joined the Marines. I served one tour,” Ronald Bradley said while inside his Myrtle Beach home. He served in Vietnam, but found the soldier life wasn’t his calling.
"As a chaplain, what could I do to make things a bit better in the world?" he said he asked himself.
Bradley went to the seminary at Wake Forest and Princeton University. He's been a chaplain for over 30 years now. After 9/11, he was inspired to mix his religious and military experiences.
“I was 20 miles from New York City. I mean we saw the smoke pouring out and it changed life forever for us,” he said. “Then that’s when I started thinking, ‘What does it mean to be patriotic? What does it mean to serve your country? What am I trying to do?’”
Bradley went to Iraq as a volunteer with the Gold Star Moms is 2010. In 2011, he traveled to Afghanistan to teach English. That year is one he, and many other Americans, will never forget.
“Osama bin Laden was killed and I didn’t know how the people were going to react. We were all very concerned for her safety. And so they gave us weapons and said we don’t know what’s going to happen but prepare yourself,” Bradley said. “So I suppose for about 24 hours there in Afghanistan, I was really, really concerned for my safety. There’s so much uncertainty in Afghanistan but especially when Osama bin Laden was killed because he, a lot of people hated him but also those admired and revered him. So I won’t forget that in 2011.”
Despite that fear, Bradley said most of his time in Afghanistan was positive. Now, he teaches stress management and communication skills workshops to women.
It’s about education, mental health and social support, he said, to build the bridges for women in the country. Bradley believes educating women to lead their country is a way to honor Americans who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice. His face lights up when he speaks of the girls he’s taught who are making a difference.
“I have seven students that are now on scholarship in the United States and they’re doing so well,” he said. “They actually have scholarships to private schools here and are going onto university .” Bradley said they’ll go back to Afghanistan and hopefully be the leaders to keep the country rising from the rubble.