1999 Distinguished Service Award: Malcolm Branch

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Malcolm P. Branch
Process Engineering Director
The Virginian-Pilot
Norfolk, Virginia
BSEM ’69

At the height of his 28-year Naval career, Malcolm P. Branch commanded the world’s largest warship, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. George Washington, and developed 6,000 men and women into the most combat-ready organization in the Navy’s Atlantic fleet.

Branch graduated with honors from UW-Madison with a BS in engineering mechanics. The U.S. Navy commissioned him an ensign, and he earned his MS in aeronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He began flight training, received his “Wings of Gold” in 1972 and deployed with three A-7 Corsair II squadrons. He commanded the Light Attack Weapons School and Attack Squadron 27. Following graduation with distinction from the Navy Nuclear Power Program, Branch was certified to operate a Naval nuclear power plant.

He was then the commissioning executive officer of the George Washington. He commanded the U.S.S. Mount Whitney and later returned to the George Washington to become her third commanding officer.

Branch accomplished several Navy firsts during his command of the aircraft carrier: He completed an unprecedented 26-month tour with no loss of life or aircraft. He developed a culture of customer-defined quality and continuous improvement. He established the first graduate-level distance-learning program at sea and introduced the Navy’s first afloat telemedicine and digital radiography facility. Branch managed assets of $5 billion and an annual budget of $71 million.

He currently is the process engineering director for the daily newspaper, The Virginian-Pilot. There he employs his skills to implement change with a focus on increased efficiency and continuous improvement.

Branch’s Naval honors include the Legion of Merit with gold star, the Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, and a Navy Commendation Medal. He is a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Association of Naval Aviation and many other professional organizations. He lives with his wife, Nancy, a graduate of the UW-Madison School of Education, in Norfolk, Virginia.