|As a teen, J.W. Bradbury would listen to Atlanta’s
rock-and-roll disc jockeys for hours.
His home had an intercom, and he’d set up his old
turntable and play “DJ” for his sister and her friends. That’s when
people first heard his golden voice.
At 18, he joined the Air Force — two months before the
bloody Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War. His voice got him a job, over
hundreds of applicants, as a military broadcaster.
A year later, he volunteered for duty in Southeast
Asia. His first Armed Forces Radio and Television Service station was at
Udorn Royal Thai Air Base, Thailand. But the day prior, an F-4 Phantom
jet crashed into the station destroying it and killing nine airmen. The
worst disaster that the AFRTS family has faced.
So he was diverted to the base at Ubon, where he got
his first harrowing look at the war. “I had just landed on a C-130
transport when the base came under mortar attack,” he said.
“My only thought was ‘don’t shoot me, I’m just the
DJ.’” As it turned out, the base’s radio and television station — his
future office — was the target.
“As a major communications outlet,” the veteran DJ
said, “we could deliver battle orders to anyone carrying a small AM/FM
Mr. Bradbury said having “been there” makes him keenly
aware of the needs of military listeners and their families overseas.
Many are away from home for the first time and feel lonely.
“But, when they turn on the radio,” he said, “there I
am. Talking to that one person, letting them know they’re not alone,
that we remember them.”