Colonel Branch was born and raised in south Texas where he learned to fly in a Piper Cub. In 1951, he joined the United States Air Force and was commissioned and rated as pilot in 1952. He completed advanced training in the F-86 and was sent to Korea, where he flew 69 combat missions. Upon his return to the United States, his unit was reassigned to Europe, where he flew the F-84F and the F-100.In January 1958, he joined the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing and was assigned to the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron. In July 1958, his squadron deployed on a top secret mission code named "Double Trouble" to Adana, Turkey, in support of the Lebanon Crisis. The flight required multiple day/night aerial refuelings and encountered adverse weather conditions. Captain Branch led the only four aircraft in the squadron to complete the mission setting a world time-distance record for an operational flight under nonsimulated conditions. Captain Branch later became the Operations Officer for the 355th Tactical Fighter Squadron and deployed with the squadron in support of the Berlin and Cuban Missile Crisis, as well as other major deployments during the Cold War era. After assignments to Headquarters, 12th Air Force, and Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Captain Branch was assigned to the 416th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Bien Hoa Air
Base, Republic of Vietnam, where he flew 228 combat missions in the F-100. A few years later, by now a Colonel, Branch returned to this theater and as Director of Operations for the 49th Tactical Fighter Wing, flew 35 combat missions in the F-4 into North and South Vietnam.Colonel Branch retired in 1978 and returned to Myrtle Beach. During his career he made one Atlantic crossing in the F-86 and 11 in the F-100, well as two Pacific crossings in the F-4. His decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, the Bronze Star, and the Air Medal with twelve oak leaf clusters.