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NEWS | Feb. 3, 2022

Profiles in Professionalism: MA1 Shannon Brazda

By Leslie Hull-Ryde, Military Sealift Command Far East

One reservist in Indiana ensures fallen service members and veterans receive proper military honors.

In addition to her duties as a master-at-arms, Petty Officer 1st Class Shannon Brazda volunteers as part of the Military Department of Indiana Ceremonial Unit. Specifically, she performs the National Anthem and other patriotic songs during special events, including Veterans Day and Memorial Day events, the Indy 500 and Indiana Pacers’s games. To her, the most important performance is when she is part of the military honors presented during funerals.

“It’s important that we honor and respect fallen Sailors by supporting their families with a proper burial ceremony, folding of the flag and presenting it to family members,” Brazda says.

“During funerals, I am usually the presenter, which means I present the flag to the next-of-kin. Sometimes it is a very emotional experience; however, I know it helps them with closure.”

While she’s had no formal training, Brazda has been singing since middle school. She was in choir through high school. Now, she is among a group of representatives from all services who make up the ceremonial unit, also known as MDICS.

“It’s important that we support our community this way,” she said.

“It’s an honor to sing during these important events and to sing the National Anthem in public.”

While she’s only been with Military Sealift Command for a couple of years, Brazda has been in uniform – either on active duty or in the reserves -- almost 11 years.

“I love serving my country and want to be a part of something greater than myself.”

When not serving in a reserve capacity or supporting a funeral or special event, Brazda works for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security with U.S. Customs and Border Protection. While she has put her talent to work as part of CBP, singing Amazing Grace during the funerals of fallen officers, one of her responsibilities for the agency is exercise planning.

As a master exercise practitioner, or MEP, Brazda plans, organizes, executes and evaluates table-top exercises, drills and other exercises for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

“Our team works to identify areas of concern before an actual event occurs,” she said.

“We prepare in advance to help make any mission successful.”

That expertise and experience translates directly to her support of the Navy, specifically Military Sealift Command.

“We give a lot of thought to exercise planning, which my active duty counterparts could benefit from. We may have different approaches, but we end up with the same result – mission accomplishment.”