Joseph K. Bratton
Lieutenant General, United States Army
K. Bratton, 81, a Lieutenant General who was a former chief of the Army
Corps of Engineers, died of an aneurysm June 2, 2007, at Virginia Hospital
General Bratton was the top official with the Corps of Engineers from 1980 until 1984 and oversaw the doubling of military construction for the Army and Air Force. The Army family housing program doubled under his command, and he emphasized the corps' contribution to national preparedness.
At the 100th birthday celebration of the Washington Monument in 1984, General Bratton praised the 555-foot, 5 1/8 -inch obelisk as "classic and enduring. In a world that changes very fast," he said, "it commemorates things that are stable and honorable."
He was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and graduated third in the Class of 1948 at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He received a master's degree in nuclear engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1959.
General Bratton served in Austria, Korea and Germany and in Vietnam during the Vietnam War. He also worked in the Atomic Energy Commission's reactor development division and was a military assistant to the secretary of the Army and to the secretary of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was chief of nuclear activities for Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe from 1972 to 1975 and director of military applications at the Department of Energy from 1975 to 1979.
At the time, the government was trying to prevent the Progressive magazine from publishing an article on how a hydrogen bomb works. The author said he got everything in the article from public sources, which the government disputed. But when a researcher found a key document marked "unclassified" in a government library, the case began to fall apart.
General Bratton, who ran the nuclear weapons program for DOE and was its acting assistant secretary for defense programs, called the security breach "serious. We have egg on our face."
The erroneous declassification "should have been caught by the review," he told The Washington Post in 1979. "It's an embarrassment."
General Bratton, who went on to lead the Corps of Engineers after that, retired from the military in 1984. His awards included the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Army Distinguished Service Medal, three awards of the Legion of Merit and two Bronze Star Medals.
He went on to become senior vice president with the Washington office of the Pasadena, California-based Ralph M. Parsons Corp., an engineering and construction company. In 1995, he and his wife moved to Melbourne, Fla. He returned to Northern Virginia last year and lived in McLean.
He enjoyed skiing, running marathons and playing squash.
His wife of 55 years, Louise Bratton, died
in 2006. A son, John Bratton, died in 1993.
BRATTON, LOUISE S
Posted: 19 April 2008