Brian Kunihiro was born and raised in Los Angeles, California where he spent much of his childhood playing sports such as football, baseball, and golf. Brian was the only child to his parents (Edith and Alan) and was known by his friends and family for his likable personality and genuineness. Despite his desire to do well in life, Brian became sidetracked and joined a local gang in high school finding himself drifting away from his intended goals. After multiple encounters with local law enforcement authorities, and at the recommendation of his father (U.S. Army Vietnam War veteran), Brian enlisted in the U.S. Army shortly after graduating from high school (1996). The U.S. Army created an environment for Brian to grow in his understanding of the good news of Jesus Christ, and walk a life of devotion to him. Brian’s first assignment was Fort Bragg, NC, but after two years of enlisted time Brian was accepted to attend the United States Military Academy Preparatory School. Brian went on to attend the United States Military Academy and graduated in 2003, where he commissioned as a Field Artillery second lieutenant.
Upon commissioning, Brian attended the Field Artillery Officer Basic Course at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Ranger and Airborne Schools at Fort Benning, Georgia. Brian’s first duty assignment was with the 1st Cavalry Division at Fort Hood, Texas from 2004-2006 where he served as a Fire Support Officer, and then served as his Brigade’s Combat Observation Lasing Team (COLT) platoon leader. While serving with 1st Cavalry Division, Brian had one deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF).
Brian was also assigned to the 1st Infantry Division (Fort Riley, Kansas) as part of the Military Transition Team mission from 2006-2008. He served as his team’s Fire Support Officer, and also served as a Personnel (Human Resources) Advisor to an Iraqi Border Police and Iraqi Army Battalion. Upon completion of his second deployment in support of OIF, Brian attended the Maneuver Captains Career Course at Fort Knox, Kentucky and the Special Forces Qualification Course at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
In May 2010, Brian was assigned to 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Lewis, Washington. During his tenure as a detachment commander, Brian deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) – Afghanistan and conducted two exercises in Thailand and Nepal. He completed this first assignment with 1st SFG (A) in a nominative position as the battalion Assistant Operations Officer. After a short tour at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Brian returned to 1st SFG (A) as the Special Forces Planning Detachment Commander, Battalion Operations Officer, and Special Forces Company Commander. His experience within Special Forces and planning expertise made him an ideal candidate to serve as a contingency planner in the Special Operations Pacific Command. From 2017-2020 Brian served as the lead planner for one of Special Operation Command’s highest priority plans. He was also nominated to serve in Taiwan for 6-months with a US Embassy-equivalent organization representing all US Special Operations interests and equities.
Brian is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College (CGSC), where he completed his Intermediate Learning Education as well as the School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS), which is a highly selective program designed to create planners for General/Flag Officer commands. Brian earned his master’s degree in Military Arts and Science while attending CGSC.
Brian Kunihiro’s awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), the Army Achievement Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters). He has earned the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Parachutist Badge, Air Assault Badge, the Sapper Tab, Ranger Tab, and Special Forces Tab.
Throughout Brian’s time in the military, he made Jesus and His Kingdom a priority. He always connected with local church congregations and served in a variety of capacities at the twenty-plus different duty assignments across the U.S. and globally. He led small-group Bible studies – which included international audiences, prayer groups, served as a church service greeter, church building cleaner, children’s ministry leader (AWANA), and volunteer for a variety of community-service projects.
Brian is married to the former Shelly Medford from West Branch, Michigan. The two married in 2013, while Brian was attending the Command and General Staff College. They have two daughters (Zoe, 7 years old and Natalie, 6 years old) and two sons (Jax, 4 years old and Maddox, 2 years old).
Brian and his family decided to retire from the U.S. Army after over 20 years of Active Duty service. They moved to Whispering Pines, NC to partner in ministry with dear friends, re-connect with numerous old friends from former ministries, and be a little closer to family.