Although one may not recognize his name, for the past 72 years Johnny Bragg has been
an active participant in Midland’s history. His father was a welder and plumber who
helped build Midland Memorial Hospital in 1950. The hospital opened in October 1950,
and Johnny was born the next month, November 1950. He was one of the first babies
born at the hospital!
In May 1969, Bragg graduated from Midland High School, and in 1970 he started taking
criminal justice classes at the Midland branch of the Permian Junior College District.
At the time, the college operated under the auspices of Odessa College, and classes
were held in the evenings at Lee High School (now Legacy High School). Midland College
wouldn’t become a separate college for another two years.
Bragg joined the U. S. Air Force on May 10, 1971 and was stationed at MacDill Airforce
Base in Tampa, FL until his discharge on May 20, 1974.
“Those three years and ten days were the only times I haven’t lived in Midland,” Bragg
said. “I enjoyed Tampa, but it wasn’t home. However, the Air Force was good for
me. I owe my profession to the Air Force. That’s where I learned the HVAC trade.”
When Bragg returned to Midland, he began working at Honeywell as an HVAC technician.
“By then, I was married and had a son,” Bragg explained. “I had to put my college
education on hold.”
During the time he was employed at Honeywell, Bragg worked as a subcontractor doing
HVAC work for several elementary schools being built in Midland. His excellent skills
earned the attention of MISD officials, and he was hired to be an air conditioning/electrical
supervisor for MISD, a position he held for approximately 10 years.
“In the mid-1990s, I was ready for a change, so in 1996, I got a job working as a
maintenance technician at Midland College,” he said. “Since my son was older, I was
also able to start taking college classes again. However, I realized that I was a
little old to start a career in criminal justice, so I switched my major to Computer-Aided
Drafting and Design (CADD). Having a background in HVAC enabled me to use the CADD
skills to design duct and necessary piping systems to create, size and connect heating
and cooling components.”
Bragg said that he continued working at the College during the day and took one or
two classes in the evenings each semester.
“It took me longer than the average student,” Bragg said. “Some semesters all I had
time to take was just one class. In fact, I retired from working full-time at Midland
College in 2006 and still hadn’t finished my degree. I started working part-time
at Westlake Ace Hardware and kept taking classes.”
In May 2011, at the age of 60, Bragg finally walked across the stage during Midland
College’s graduation ceremony and received an Associate of Applied Science Degree.
Today, after having had three neck surgeries, one back surgery and two knee replacements,
Bragg is 72 years old and works part-time at Academy Sports + Outdoors in Midland.
In fact, many Midlanders know him as the friendly face that welcomes them when they
walk in the doors.
When he isn’t working at Academy, Bragg enjoys spending time at his home with his
two dogs, a female Shih Tzu-Chihuahua mix named Ema and a male Chihuahua named Apache.