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Cadet, military mom strengthen personal, professional bonds
Cadet 1st Class Garrett Dean poses for a photo in front of a display honoring Army Lt. Col. Jay Zeamer Jr. Oct. 8, 2013, in the Air Force Academy's Hall of Exemplars. Zeamer kept his B-17 Flying Fortress in the air during a reconnaissance mission in 1943, enduring a 45-minute attack by more than a dozen Japanese fighters while fighting to stay conscious through shock and injury. Dean entered the Air Force Academy the same year his mother, Army 1st Lt. Lacey Dean, entered Army Officer Candidate School. (U.S. Air Force photo/Don Branum)
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Cadet, military mom strengthen personal, professional bonds

Posted 10/11/2013   Updated 10/11/2013 Email story   Print story


by Don Branum
Air Force Academy Public Affairs

10/11/2013 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- A lot of cadets have a family tradition of military service, but not many family traditions start the same year for two generations. But, that's exactly how Cadet 1st Class Garrett Dean and his mother, Army 1st Lt. Lacey Dean, began in 2010.

Garrett told his mother before his junior year of high school that he was interested in attending the Academy. Lacey, who until then had held jobs in film and business management, decided to look at a life change as well. Shortly after Lacy was accepted to Army Officer Candidate School, Garrett learned he'd been accepted to the Academy.

"She came out to Parents' Weekend," Garrett said. "The next month, she started her basic training at Fort Sill, Okla. I saw her graduate."

Lacey's next stop was Fort Benning, Ga., for OCS. She graduated the weekend before Recognition was set to begin here. Again, Garrett got to visit.

"I was her first salute," he said.

Garrett, a Boston-area native, said their shared experience has been "pretty interesting," and that it's further strengthened a relationship that was already close.

"It's been her and me our whole lives," he said. "We lived in apartments and moved every couple of years, so we joked that moving around Boston prepared us for military life."

They've bonded over similar experiences: as a senior, Garrett is responsible for the well-being of underclassmen in Cadet Squadron 18. As an Army officer, Lacey is responsible for the lives and well-being of the soldiers in her air defense artillery unit. They share experiences and how they've learned how to deal with "random day-to-day issues," Garrett said.

"It's almost like I'm talking to another firstie, but it's my mom," he added.

Garrett said he's watched his mother evolve over the last few years.

"She's always been a confident and powerful person," he said. "Being a single parent is exceptional. But she's become even more confident, more willing to try new things. And she's happier, too ... she's thrived. She loves it.

"She pushes herself. She holds herself to high standards. She pushes me to become better, and I can push her to become better because we're both serving at a junior level," he continued.

Garrett said he wants to become a pilot to help soldiers on the ground -- including his mother -- complete their missions.

"I hope to specifically support the role of close-air support," he said. "I did Operation Air Force in (Southwest Asia) and spent an afternoon there with a pararescue unit. I would love to help the boots on the ground through a CAS role, help them get the mission done."

He said his first preference is the A-10 Thunderbolt II, though he knows sequestration has cast a pall over the A-10's future. Other aircraft will continue to play a role in CAS missions, though, so he's not picky.

"I just love flying," he said. "Flying is the most amazing thing, and I'd be happy with whatever airframe I got."

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