Hope, Arkansas native Brad Crayne, B.A., B.S., J.D., USAF, MAJ., RET., has served his country and community from the heart. He remembered the childhood stories his grandmother told him of his grandfather’s time in the service and how mysterious the Marine Corps seemed to be as a kid. “I was always curious about my grandfather’s time in the military but never asked him since he passed away just before I was born,” he said. “I always thought airplanes were cool, and I had a great uncle that worked for an airline, too.” Brad first enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1993, where he completed boot camp, then two technical schools, and served for almost nine years. He joined the Operational Fleet in March 1994, where he completed aircraft maintenance training. Brad worked in the Electrical Shop of the fleet, where he diagnosed issues with various models of F/A-18 aircrafts. He worked with Fix Wing Marine Fighter Attack (All Weather) Squadron 533, or VMFA (A.W.) 533 for short, as well as VMFA (A.W.) 224 and VMFA 112. “The Marine Corps is awesome at training people; I don’t think anyone ever unlearns the things they teach you,” he said. “Both the Air Force and the Marine Corps emphasized maintaining your professionalism under pressure. I think that comes easier to me than it would have otherwise.”
With his military and electrical experience under his belt, he left the Marine Corps in 2002 after earning his first baccalaureate degree from Columbia College of Missouri in July 2002 while on active duty. He revisited a connection in Ft. Worth and began working as a contract employee for Bell Helicopter. He stayed with them until he was accepted into law school about six months later. Brad entered law school at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), William H. Bowen School of Law, in the Fall 2003. “I was interested in law and knew I didn’t want to do litigation. I figured I could work with title companies,” he said. “Things like real estate, conveyances, and estate planning.” Brad’s grandfather, W.A. “Nick” Wilson, played a huge part in his choice to attend law school.
He watched his mother, as the estate executor, handle the probate and the claims against the estate. “My grandfather’s estate is the reason I was able to go to law school, and the whole thing was kind of painful on our family. I just felt that there are better ways to do this,” he said. “That is why I am interested in estate planning. I want to be able to help people avoid what we went through.”
After his first year of Law School, he took a law clerk job with John Snell, who worked at the V.A. Office of Regional Counsel in Little Rock, AR. He worked on the medical malpractice files for the V.A. under the V.A. work-study program until he graduated from law school in 2006. He passed the February 2006 version of the Texas bar exam and received his license to practice law in May 2006. He had already been officered a commission as a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force pending his test results. Brad completed Commissioned Officer Training and the Judge Advocate Staff Officer Course at Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, AL. He was certified as a Judge Advocate and admitted to practice before the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals, AFCCA, and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, CAAF, in September 2006. Following this initial training, he started working for the Air Force as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, commonly referred to as a JAG Officer. His first assignment was at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. In this position, he worked on Administrative Law issues for Commanders, Legal Assistance for Airmen and their families, and prosecution of military criminal cases under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This work entailed drafting legal memoranda in support or nonsupport of various proposed courses of action based on military and federal and state law for their submitted requests. This position also included drafting hundreds of Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Advance Healthcare Directives, as well as conducting pretrial investigations and, of course, some litigation.
He was deployed to Afghanistan just before Christmas of 2010. “I worked as the JAG for the Commander of an Air Expedition Wing.” He worked to manage the Wing Commander’s military justice and ethics programs and addressed administrative law issues for the Command. In addition, he and his paralegal provided legal assistance to service members, including operating a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site out of his office. Brad’s deployment was finished about six months later. He returned to Laughlin Air Force Base, near Del Rio, Texas, in the Summer of 2011, where he was immediately reassigned to serve as an Area Defense Counsel (public defender) at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. Brad believes he completed more litigation cases in the following 18 months than in the previous four years combined. “I initially hadn’t wanted to do litigation, and it was also the hardest job I have ever had in my life, but it actually turned out to be kind of rewarding,” he said. Brad’s defense work primarily centered on advising Airmen facing criminal prosecution or adverse administrative actions. However, throughout his career, he provided legal counsel to Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines on a wide range of military criminal and administrative issues as well as civil legal issues, including estate planning, contracts, real property law, consumer law, debtor/creditor relations, banking, bankruptcy, immigration, divorce and child custody, small claims, and probate.
Brad moved his family from base to base throughout the years as his military assignments changed. It was not always an easy transition, and ultimately his kids stayed back in their hometown with his ex-wife. He wanted to be closer to his kids and requested a new assignment in 2014. With his 17th year in the military coming up soon, he was warned that a move to Barksdale Airforce Base in Shreveport, Louisiana, could come without any further advancement. “I told them that I didn’t care about that anymore. I just wanted to be near my kids,” he said. After 21 years of service in the Marine Corps, he retired in 2018. He and his wife, Juanita, have ‘stationed’ themselves in Texarkana, TX. Brad continued his college education and obtained a second baccalaureate degree in Mathematics. He graduated from Texas A&M University-Texarkana with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, Magna Cum Laude, in the Spring of 2021. The following school year (2021-2022), Brad worked the full school year as a teacher in Mathematics courses at Ashdown High School before joining the team of Elder Law Attorneys at Ross and Shoalmire, PLLC, in June 2022. He believes that the military has prepared him well for his newfound career as an elder law attorney. “All military branches make mission accomplishment the highest priority,” he said. “As an elder law attorney, that means being responsive to clients and getting the work done in a timely manner. I tend to focus first on finding the objective and then looking for the best possible way to get it completely accomplished. This will apply to my clients, as well.”
Brad has settled into the Texarkana community well, making sure to be a service to others. He has volunteered for the Miller & Bowie County Literacy Council and Habitat for Humanity. He is currently completing the curriculum with Leadership Texarkana, where he is gaining knowledge & experience to become a better leader for his surrounding communities. He has taken every challenge head-on, from his military career to education and now to Elder Law. “I wasn’t scared of my decision to join the military or intimidated at all until I stood on the little yellow footprints,” he said. “When I got off the bus in San Diego for boot camp, they were immediately yelling at us to get on the yellow footprints. They are painted on the concrete where your feet are in the position of attention in a military formation.” In that moment, Brad thought he had not made the best decision, but in the end, he is proud of his dedication and service to the United States of America.