Brahney, James H.

James H. Brahney, Lt. Colonel USAF (Retired)
November 07, 1939 – September 11, 2009

BRAHNEY JAMES H. Retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, James H. Brahney, of McCandless Twp., died Friday, September 11, 2009. Born in Youngstown, OH., on November 7, 1939.

Brahney was a 1962 graduate of Youngstown University, where he earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering. He was also a graduate of Ursuline High School and Immaculate Conception Grade School.

Brahney served a one-year tour in Vietnam, where he was credited with saving nine lives. He was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, another Distinguished Flying Cross, and seven Air Medals for meritorious achievement in flight.

Brahney also earned an M.S. in systems management from the University of Southern California and a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Pittsburgh. After retirement from the Air Force in 1982, Brahney worked at the Society of Automotive Engineers. A published author, Brahney also taught organization and management courses at the University of Maryland, Youngstown State University, and the University of Pittsburgh.

He is survived by his wife Carolyn A. (Peluso) Brahney; daughter, Mary Frances Roche, of Phoenixville, PA; sons, James Eric Brahney, of Washington, DC, and Scott Mitchell Brahney of Windber, PA all North Allegheny graduates; sisters, Ellen McQuade, Kathleen Dragoman, and Nancy Varley, all of Youngstown, OH, and grandchildren; Joy, Samuel, Connor, Emily, Caleb, Aidan, and Joshua.

Friends received Monday 1-3 & 6-8 pm at SIMONS FUNERAL HOME, INC., 7720 Perry Highway, Pgh., PA 15237. Mass of Christian Burial in St. Sebastian Church on Tuesday at 10 AM. Burial will follow in the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies. Contributions may be made to the Leukemia/ Lymphoma Society, River Walk Corporate Center, Suite 441, 333 East Carson St., Pittsburgh, PA 15237.

James H. Brahney, 69, of McCandless, test pilot, Vietnam hero, writer, died Friday, Sept. 11, 2009, from complications from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Brahney was born Nov. 7, 1939, in Youngstown, Ohio, to Paul Eugene Brahney and Anna Frances Brahney.

He attended Immaculate Conception Grade School and Ursuline High School, in Youngstown, before majoring in mechanical engineering at Youngstown University, where he earned a BS in 1962. Brahney began his professional career in June 1962 as an Aerospace Research Engineer on NASA’s Apollo Program with North American Aviation in Los Angeles. Despite a “critical skills” occupational deferment, he opted to enter the Air Force Officer Training School at the end of that year, with hopes of going on to pilot training.

He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in March 1963 and was selected for jet pilot training. He received his wings in May 1964 and went on to advanced helicopter flight training. In 1966 to 1967, Brahney served a one-year tour in Vietnam, flying 200 combat sorties as a Rescue Helicopter Pilot. He was credited with saving nine lives and was decorated with the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism, the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry, another Distinguished Flying Cross and seven Air Medals for meritorious achievement in flight. In recognition of his Vietnam service, Brahney will be inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame for Valor in May 2010. In 1968, Brahney was selected to attend the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School and following graduation, he was assigned to the Flight Test Wing at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio, where he tested a variety of aircraft and flight systems. He was Chief Test Pilot on the Air Cushion Landing System program, and he was the only pilot to make full-stop landings on this experimental system. During his seven-year tenure as a test pilot, he also traveled to Canada and Japan to test experimental aircraft developed in those countries.

Brahney’s flying career spanned 13 years during which he compiled 2800 flying hours in 35 different aircraft, including single- and multi-engine jets, single- and multi-engine props/turboprops, helicopters, seaplanes, gyrocopters, and gliders. He was pilot-qualified in 23 different aircraft, which was unheard of in that era of aviation. From 1976 to 1979, Brahney progressed through a series of program management positions before being appointed as Director of the Advanced Rescue Helicopter Program. He was also Commander of the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Pittsburgh for two years.

At the end of 1982, following his retirement as a Lieutenant Colonel, Brahney began a second career with SAE where he developed and managed aerospace technical conferences throughout the US, and in Europe and Asia. He also served as Associate Editor of Aerospace Engineering magazine where he published more than 200 technical articles. He also taught organization and management courses at the University of Maryland, Youngstown State University, and the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to his ME degree from Youngstown University, Brahney held an MS in systems management from the University of Southern California and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from the University of Pittsburgh. He was also a graduate of Armed Forces Staff College and Defense Systems Management College. During his 37 years in the aerospace industry, Brahney was listed in several “Who’s Who” in aerospace/aviation yearbooks, as well as “Outstanding Men of America,” and he was featured in the book “History of Experimental Test Pilots.”

His military decorations also include two Meritorious Service Medals and the Air Force Commendation Medal. Brahney was elected to the McCandless Town Council and also served on the North Hills Youth Ministry Board of Directors and the Salvation Army Advisory Board on Youngstown’s east side, where he was raised. He was also a member of several aviation, business, engineering, military and education professional societies. Brahney experienced a “trifecta” by being invited to be the featured speaker at his elementary school, high school and college. He was the Commencement Speaker at Ursuline High School, he spoke at YSU’s Engineering School and he was the guest speaker for a fundraiser for Immaculate Conception School.

Following his retirement from SAE, Brahney authored a book entitled “On Laughter-Silvered Wings”, an account of his aviation career, interspersed with anecdotal flashbacks about his early years growing up on the east side of Youngstown, Ohio. Brahney was the starting third baseman on Youngstown University’s state champion baseball team in 1958. He also enjoyed racquetball and tennis, and was an avid golfer. At age 61, he shot 76, breaking 80 for the only time in his life. While an undergraduate at Youngstown University, Brahney was president of Kappa Sigma Kappa social fraternity, and he has remained very active with a group of 1960s fraternity brothers for almost 50 years. Included in their activities are annual golfing trips to Florida and Myrtle Beach, tailgating at YSU football games and travels to Europe. Trips have included a 2005 tour of Italy, his wife’s homeland, and of his own mother country, Ireland, in 2007.

In addition to his wife of 45 years, Carolyn, Brahney is survived by three children, Mary Frances Roche, of Phoenixville, James Eric Brahney, of Washington D.C., and Scott Mitchell Brahney, of Windber; three sisters, Ellen McQuade, of Warren, Ohio, Kathleen Dragoman and Nancy Varley, both of Youngstown; and seven grandchildren, Joy Anne, Samuel David, Connor Jeffrey, Emily Ann, Caleb Joseph, Aidan James and Joshua James.

He was diagnosed with the disease in 2001, and had undergone more than 60 chemotherapy and radiation treatments over the past several years. Although various illnesses had prevented him from enjoying golf and gardening since last October, “Bumpa” was able to tour the Carnegie Museum on Natural History with some of his seven grandkids as late as March of this year.

Friends received from 1 to 3 and 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at SIMONS FUNERAL HOME INC., 7720 Perry Highway, Pittsburgh, PA 15237. Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. Tuesday in St. Sebastian Church. Burial will follow in the National Cemetery of the Alleghenies.

Contributions may be made to the Leukemian/Lymphoma Society, River Walk Corporate Center, Suite 441, 33 East Carson St., Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Lt. Col. Brahney served with Det. 10, 38th ARRS in Vietnam 1966 – 1967

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