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Exclusive- Oregon National Guard Fighter Pilot Promoted to GeneralTim King Salem-News.com
Salem-News.com's Tim King interviewed the newly promoted General who is the first African-American to earn the rank in the Oregon National Guard, and filed this report.
(SALEM) - An Oregon National Guard fighter pilot was promoted to brigadier general at the guard headquarters in Salem Wednesday.
The promotion was historic, because Garry Dean is the first African American to ever attain the rank of General in the Oregon National Guard.
`General, congratulations, I wonder how long it is going to take before you get used to being called General?`
`Well I don`t know, I hope everything stays the same. I mean obviously people will respond to me probably more different than I to them. I`m sure it won`t take long, you just do the job that they put you in and you focus on that more than the title."
`The new role that you`ll have will be basically an extension of the role that you already have in the Oregon Guard? `
`It`s obviously a step up in responsibility. In the state of Oregon I was focused on integrating the Air Guard operationally into the state mission, our three units in the Air Guard. If the Governor needs us for state missions, integrating those federal missions with flying airplanes and doing things, into actually either filling sandbags for floods or helping with the forest fires, manning the lines, so that job was primarily focused on just Oregon.
In my new job I`ll be actually advising the Adjutant General into more of the overall National Guard in Oregon, how we proceed into the future, how do we recruit better, how do we accomplish our mission better, and engaging more in the national scene in how to present the best case for Oregon so we get what we need.`
`You get the notion that I am a student of aviation history. I`ve interviewed Tuskegee Airmen; I have followed the trail if you will, of African Americans with regard to flying and the U.S. military. I spent three years in the Marine Corps General and I don`t remember seeing one pilot who was African American, so I love standing here with you today. What should we read from all of this, from you being the first general in Oregon who is African American? `
`You don`t like to focus on those things but they are real, I am the first African American person here and I think it`s just a good indication of where our country has come from, from where we started to where we are today, which is thereby that our nation, really, whether you`re an immigrant or no matter what your walk in life, if you apply yourself, you get the education that is there available for you and you take advantage of opportunities.
You can really achieve whatever it is that you want to. So I`d really kind of say that it is a good testimony to where our nation is right now, that it truly is the land of the free, and that we all have an opportunity to reach our dreams."
`Because it was only 1947 when full segregation still existed. `
`Yeah that`s exactly it, I remember reading the stories with President Roosevelt`s wife, and how integral she was in helping people understand that ?Hey, I`m going to go fly with these guys,` to show that it was safe.
So you know in life things take time and so I think it is good for us to remember the past but look to the future, to where we look to people for what they do and so I`m proud of everybody who`s gone in front of me, that have paved the way so that I could have this opportunity today. `
`I`m proud of it too. I`ve had the chance to go up in the F-16 with the Fighter Weapons School in Las Vegas, but I understand the F-15 is quite the airplane. You`ve spent your career primarily flying that right? `
`Primarily the F-15 yes, quite the airplane, it was designed in the early 1970`s and is still today one of the world`s premier air-to-air fighter aircraft and it is currently being used all around the world.
As we proceed into the future, technology changes and things, so it is still serving us well now but in the future I know our nation and other nations are looking for more modern aircraft to accomplish the needs of their nations."
As the General was promoted at the ceremony, his mother and father had the honor of pinning on his new stars.
`I want to know what it was like to have your mom and dad come on the stage like that? I mean when we talk about parental pride in general terms, you have one thing. Then you have what happened here today. I think there were a lot of chills and goose bumps. `
`Yes there were, I felt really special to have my mom and dad here today because truly as you get older you realize it wasn`t so much what they said, but the things they did. Each of them had a tremendous impact on me being able to navigate those years; you know the things you want to do.
It is really good having parents that work hard and provided for you, but then set the example of hard work, being on time, having pride in what you do.
Of course my mom is an educator, going out and getting her master`s degree when she didn`t have to, but that really said a lot to me as far as that it kind of backs up what your teachers say, so it was very proud."
"Do you hope that when people see this tonight for example that they understand that big things are possible for all people, even the biggest, the rank of general?"
"That`s correct, and anything`s possible but also you know I`m looking forward to the challenge too. There`s a lot of work to do, so I just look forward and ahead to the things that we can do to help the Oregon National Guard be in a position to first of all, help our state, defend our orders, defend our nation, and also help our nation in other areas.
We just sent 900 soldiers to Afghanistan to help train that army and hopefully as we train them, they`ll be able to take care of themselves.
It`s just wonderful to be recognized and to be given that responsibility and so I look forward to serving the great people of this National Guard and of the state of Oregon."
General Garry Dean is a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and the Top Graduate from his Pilot Instructor Training course.
He was also a Distinguished Graduate from Fighter Lead-In Training.
Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor.
Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 in Afghanistan with Oregon troops. Tim recently returned from Iraq where he covered the war there while embedded with an Oregon Guard aviation unit. Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated with Google News and several other major search engines and news aggregators.
You can send Tim an email at this address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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