Colonel Braatz was commissioned in August 1992. In March 1993, he completed The Basic School and was sent to Aviation Preflight Indoctrination at NAS Pensacola, Florida. Prior to starting Flight Training Colonel Braatz was assigned to Helicopter Training Squadron (HT)-8 as the ground training officer. Colonel Braatz was designated a Naval Aviator in Pensacola, Florida, in February 1996.
Colonel Braatz began training at HMT-303, the AH-1W Fleet Replacement Squadron, in Camp Pendleton, CA in April 1996 and upon completion of training reported to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA)-169. During his tour with the Vipers, he served as the Assistant S-1 Officer, Schedule Writer, Pilot Training Officer, Flight Officer, Airframes Officer-In-Charge, Quality Assurance Officer in Charge, Assistant Operations Officer, Operations Officer and Tactics Officer. Additionally, during his time with the Vipers he served with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM)-265 (REIN) and deployed oversees three times conducting operations in Korea, Japan, Australia and combat operations in East Timor.
In May of 2002 Colonel Braatz reported to Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Atlantic (EWTGLANT) and was qualified as a Forward Air Controller (FAC) and FAC Instructor. While assigned to EWTGLANT Colonel Braatz became the first Marine Corps Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) model manager and developed the Marine Corps JTAC Training and Readiness syllabus with TECOM and Joint Services. Colonel Braatz also developed the Marine Supporting Arms Training Dome Simulator which is currently used to train FACs and JTACs at EWTGLANT and EWTGPAC.
In March of 2005 Colonel Braatz checked into 2D Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) and deployed to OIF 04-06 as a FAC/JTAC. While deployed, Colonel Braatz conducted combat JTAC operations with 2nd BCT in Ramadi and 3rd Bn 25th Marines in Haditha, Iraq.
Upon redeployment to the U.S., Colonel Braatz executed orders to Marine Aircraft Group (MAG)-29, MCAS New River, NC. After attending the AH- 1W refresher course Colonel Braatz checked into HML/A-269 and was assigned as the Aircraft Maintenance Officer. In February 2006 Colonel Braatz deployed to Al Asad Iraq with HML/A-269 where he conducted combat operations in support of OIF 05-07. In September 2006 Colonel Braatz was appointed to the position of Executive Officer of HML/A-269 and deployed again to Al Asad, Iraq in February 2007 to conduct combat operations in support of OIF 06-08.
Upon return from Iraq Colonel Braatz assumed the duties of MAG-29 Remain Behind Element Officer-In-Charge. After a short time in this position, Colonel Braatz was selected to become the Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) Air Officer and reported to MARSOC in March of 2008. While at MARSOC, Colonel Braatz developed the MARSOC Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) program and the MARSOC Fires Simulation System and program. He completed his tour at MARSOC in February of 2009 and reported to MAG-49 Detachment C in March of 2009 to be the commander of the unit.
Colonel Braatz was the MAG-49 Detachment C Site Commander at NASJRB Belle Chasse from May of 2009 to May of 2011. After giving up command, Colonel Braatz reported to the Air War College in Montgomery Alabama and completed his Masters in Strategic Studies in 2012
In July of 2012 Colonel Braatz reported to United States Special Operations Command in Tampa, Fl. During his tour he deployed four times with a Task Force to conduct combat operations in Afghanistan. Additionally, he created several programs which have positively affected the National Security of the United States. Colonel Braatz reported to MAG-49 in May 2016 Joint Qualification complete.