FAIRBURY – Ralph Broadston of Steele City was honored as Jefferson County’s “Veteran of the Month” for April at Tuesday’s county commissioner’s meeting at the courthouse.
Broadston dropped out of high school in Washington, KS and voluntarily joined the U.S. Air Force on Sept. 29, 1954. He earned his General Education Diploma (GED) while attending 13 weeks of Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX.
Broadston attended 18 weeks of Advanced Individual Training, preparing to be a Cryptanalysis Specialist, defined as the art, or process, of deciphering coded messages without being told the key. Also known as a “code breaker.” This began Broadston’s career in Military Intelligence.
After another six months of training with the National Security Agency (NSA), Broadston served for three years in Germany as an Analytical Technician, earning his third stripe (E-4) with a Top Secret Clearance.
In September 1958, Broadston was discharged for 90 days before re-enlisting Dec. 1958 in San Antonio, where he served in the Air Force Security Service as a Staff Sergeant (E-5) from 1958-1961, before serving a one-year tour of duty in the Aleutian Islands.
His next assignment was at Goodfellow AFB in San Angelo, TX for a year, where he had Training Instructor duty and rewrote the Cryptanalysis Training Course.
In 1963 and ’64, Broadston attended Computer Training at Kelly AFB in San Antonio. From ’64-68, Broadston was in Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage, AK, where he dealt with Air Force Specialty Coding.
In 1968, an Army opening in his Military Occupational Specialty presented itself, and Ralph received a direct commission as a Warrant Officer (WO1) in the U.S. Army. After two months of Military Intelligence Training at Fort Richardson, AK, Warrant Officer Broadston was assigned to Fort Sill, OK for four weeks of Warrant Officer Training.
His first duty assignment as a Warrant Officer was to Fort Devens, MA to the Army Security Agency Training Center School where he served from 1968-1971 as Division Head of the Cryptanalysis Department.
For the next two years, WO Broadston served as a “Code Breaker” at Okinawa, Japan at Torii Station with a multi-task force of Army, Navy, Air Force and National Security Agency personnel.
At some point toward the end of his career, Broadston was the only Army WO Expert Cryptanalysis. In 1964-75, Broadston went back to Fort Devens, MA again, serving as Division Head of the Cryptanalysis Department.
Chief Warrant Officer (CW2) Broadston retired in 1975, and was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer (CW3) two years after retirement.
In civilian life, Broadston worked for Sears for nearly five years in San Antonio. From 1979-1993, he worked a Civil Service job at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio.
From 1993-2008, he worked for American Greeting Corporation – also in San Antonio. Broadston and his wife, Evonda, moved to Steele City in 2009 where they currently live.
Broadston has been a 28-year member of the Steele City American Legion Post 349, and was the mayor of Steele City for a short time. Broadston currently serves on the City Board of Trustees, the Cemetery Board and has been a member of Disabled American Veterans since 1976.
During a distinguished 21-year career in the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army, Chief Warrant Officer Ralph Broadston received the following awards:
- Meritorious Service Medal (2nd Award)
- Air Force Commendation Medal
- Air Force Good Conduct Medal (1st-4th Awards)
- National Defense Service Medal
- Air Force Longevity Service Medal (2 OLC)
- Air Force Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Badge
- Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
Doug Kapke, also a Jefferson County veteran, nominated Broadston for the April recognition. Last month, Plymouth native Emery W. Bessler was Veteran of the Month.
Read more about the other two honorees in 2019 here:
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