May 28, 2024

Army Commander Catherine Browning

A Profile in Townie Pride

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“I think East Providence provided me with a great educational opportunity and I made the most of it. School is what you give to learning. I did my best” - Captain Browning

East Providence High School and West Point graduate Catherine Browning continues her ascension within the United States Army with a distinction and dedication to country. Since January 2022, USAR Captain Browning has been serving as her Company Commander and setting records as one of the nation’s military leaders. Shying away from talking about herself, Browning heaps praise upon her troops and military colleagues. This is no surprise to those who know her. In 2016 she received the coveted “hammer” award for the World Indoor Rowing Championships after pulling the fastest 2K of any collegiate woman in the world. Browning also earned a bronze medal for third fastest woman in the world. “While proud to say that I set a new personal and school record by breaking 7 minutes, ranked as the top collegiate woman, and got a chance to represent Army West Point Crew well, crew is the hardest sport I've done, and by far the most rewarding and I attribute my success to the constant support and motivation from my teammates. I couldn't have done it without you, as you push me to my limit each and every day,” Browning told her fellow troops.

This is the Catherine Browning that her classmates and teachers knew at East Providence High School. Somewhat quiet and unassuming, the 2012 Townie graduate was class Valedictorian and a top athlete excelling in Cross-Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track. She also received rowing training and completed a triathlon. A member of the 2012 EPHS National and Rhode Island Honor Societies, she was also an accomplished musician, volunteered in many school and community endeavors and liked to read a lot, keeping up on world news events. Her rigorous academic and athletic schedule held her back a little with her many musical talents but “I did play the jazz guitar and a euphonium (sort of a tuba) and have played a bit with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, but haven’t dwelled on my music much,” she offered.

Current Rhode Island Secretary of State Gregg Amore was one of her teachers at EPHS. “Catherine was a student in my AP US History class,” Amore tells the REPORTER. “It was clear to me from the moment I started to interact in class with Catherine that she would do whatever she wanted to do in life. She was comfortable in her own skin, whip smart, and incredibly engaging. She also has a smile that can light up a room. She was so well liked, and admired, by her peers and the faculty. It makes perfect sense that she now leads men and women in such an important role. Her (army) company is in really good hands!”

Her former EPHS track coach, Bob Duarte, speaks effusively about his former star athlete. “I can honestly say that Catherine might be the finest student athlete that I have had the honor of coaching. She was a 6-season captain, JR & SR Cross Country, Indoor and Outdoor Track. She is an extremely hard worker that had dealt with a lot of setbacks because of injury,” Duarte continued. As a freshman, Browning was one of the state’s top distance runners. Injuries may have kept Browning from being one of the best high school athletes in a long time.”

Captain Browning graduated with honors from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2016. She is currently a medical planner for the 62nd Medical Brigade stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. A prodigious military leader with an impressive resume that grows every year:

• US Army Company Commander
• Support Operation Cell Officer
• Company Executive Officer
• Medical Platoon Leader
• Medical Operations Officer

Commander Browning’s assignments have taken her throughout the nation and the world. Before assuming her current duties as Medical Planner, Browning’s leadership roles included an important array of responsibilities. Here are a few:

  • Completion in February 2024 of 25 months serving as a company commander for 547 Medical Company (Area Support).
  • Directed medical operations for hospital in Kosovo for 1,000 Service Members from 10 NATO countries across five countries in the Balkan theater, resulting in high quality healthcare to include 2,200 patient encounters and eight medical evacuations.
  • Managed a team of 65 personnel to train and perform successfully during a 9-month deployment to Kosovo and assume a response mission.
  • • Managed a team of 78 personnel to prepare for a deployment to the Middle East within 48 hours’ notice. Browning received recognition from the FORSCOM Surgeon General for her ability to accomplish this demanding task.
  • Managed medical logistics and medical maintenance throughout Balkan theater which resulted in the delivery of over 3,000 lines of critical supplies. Browning was instrumental in guiding behavioral health, physical therapy, preventive medicine, veterinary, dental, optometry, and general medical care which increased access to specialty care for Service Members in an area with limited services.
  • If these career highlights aren’t enough, Browning spearheaded over 110 challenging and realistic training events for Service Members and local community members that included teaching basic life support to local Kosovar women and children and Tactical Combat Casualty Care training to NATO partners. She also developed Standard Operating Procedure for Mass Casualty Operations that received recognition as “Best MASCAL plan observed” by external evaluators.

The REPORTER first met Catherine Browning during her senior year at East Providence High School in 2012. As Browning was set to graduate from EP, her summer plans included getting ready to report to cadet basic training, or “BEAST” training at West Point Military Academy in New York. Instead of a summer at the beach or other leisure activity before college or work, Browning would be attending the prestigious military academy in early July. EPHS’s top ranked senior in 2012 would soon be starting a tough basic training program with the US Army. “Oh yes, I had to complete full army basic training,” Browning said with a smile when asked. “The military program begins on your first day at West Point. Most military training takes place during the summer, with new cadets undergoing Cadet Basic Training - or Beast Barracks - the first year, followed by Cadet Field Training at nearby Camp Buckner the second year,” Browning explained. Browning excelled at West Point as she did at EPHS. She graduated from West Point in 2016 as Medical Services Officer and was assigned to the Third Infantry Division based out of Fort Stewart, GA. From October 2016 to October 2017 Captain Browning was stationed in Camp Casey, South Korea. While in Fort Stewart, she served as the Treatment Platoon Leader and Executive Officer for the Medical Company supporting more than 4000 Soldiers in the 2nd Armored Brigade. “I was the Brigade Support Coordination Cell Medical Officer and we were deployed to Poland,” Browning explained. Due to COVID19 we've assumed the Regionally Aligned Forces mission and stayed in Europe for 9 months,” she added.

During our interview as she was graduating from EP, we asked about her education to date. Browning attended Myron J. Francis Elementary and Edward R. Martin Middle schools before entering EPHS. When asked if her family considered a private school education, Browning quickly endorsed East Providence schools. “I think East Providence provided me with a great educational opportunity and I made the most of it. School is what you give to learning. I did my best,” she said. “I have no regrets attending EPHS (instead of a private school) and I have lots of people to thank. My parents and family, my teachers, my coaches and people in the community - all have been important to me,” said Browning. “EPHS offers much, you must work hard and give back,” she said.

Browning was nominated by United States Senator Jack Reed and was one of only 4 Rhode Islanders to enroll at West Point in 2012. She was also accepted at Brown University and Brandeis as well as just about any college or university she could choose. She was a recipient of an ROTC scholarship which would apply to any school with an ROTC program. But in the end, Browning chose to serve in the military and to do so at West Point. “I looked into the Coast Guard and Naval Academy, but it was West Point and the army which appealed to me the most,” Browning said. When asked if she was ready for the tough training regimen ahead at West Point, Browning smiled slightly and said, “they’ll (army) help me get ready. I will have many educational and job opportunities with West Point.” The enrollment process for West Point is complicated. There are rigorous academic, medical, physical and leadership qualifications that a candidate must possess before even being considered for acceptance. Catherine Browning was up to those challenges. “West Point challenged me mentally, physically, and academically, in ways that I had never been challenged before. I truly failed for the first time and learned the importance and necessity of resilience,” explained Browning. She chuckled as she mentioned her favorite and not so favorite memories at the Academy. “I won’t miss things like ‘Military Movement” (a quasi-gymnastics class), SAMI mornings, Cadet Field Training and losing four Army-Navy games in a row. My best memories include anything to do with the Army Crew Team, graduation and commissioning day, and the Army-Navy game. The friends I made at West Point are some of the most amazing and talented people I know. They are the epitome of selfless leaders and I'm proud to serve in the Army alongside them because I know that they represent the positive change that we need,” she added.

The goal of the West Point experience is to develop “leaders of character who live honorably, lead honorably, and demonstrate excellence”. Commander Catherine Browning, a Townie, has lived up to that mantra and then some. “My goal is to aim as high as possible,” Browning added. It appears she met and exceeded that goal. Indeed, US Army Commander Captain  Catherine Browning has been a humble, yet shining star from her accomplishments in East Providence, RI to her global contributions as a graduate of West Point Military Academy. Truly a “Profile in Townie Pride.”

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