In honor of Memorial Day – and in gratitude to all the men and women who have served our country past and present – we would like to introduce you to one very special member of the 12 Oaks community: Charlie Dean. We asked Charlie to share a little background on his over two decades of service in the U.S. Navy, as well as his life today.
First of all, thank you very much for your service to our country. Where were you stationed during your time in service?
I served in the U.S. Navy for a total of 21 years. Five of those were on active duty, sixteen in the ready reserve. My active duty consisted of flight training related to the Grumman A-6 Intruder, a twin-engine jet aircraft designed to deliver ordnance on designated targets in all kinds of weather. The aircraft operated with a crew of two, a pilot and a bombardier-navigator (B/N). I was the B/N, and as such, I was responsible for delivering our payload on time, on target. Our squadron was deployed aboard the USS America during the conflict in Vietnam. I’m happy to report that my 130 (+/-) launches equaled my traps.
I chose not to augment from the reserves to the regular Navy, but continued my service in the airborne ready reserves, and transitioned from the attack Navy to the patrol Navy. Our patrol squadron flew the Lockheed P-3 Orion conducted anti-submarine missions, tracking the Soviet submarine threat. Our two-week active duty cruises took us to Rota, Spain, Lajes, Azores, Bermuda, and Iceland. I ended my Navy career as a war games umpire specializing in battle damage assessment at the Naval War College in Newport, RI.
How has your military service impacted your life today?
I realized very early on that my military service has given me a grounding experience that cannot be easily explained to those who have none. Not many people can say that they have pulled SAM missile shrapnel out of the empennage of their aircraft, completed their mission, and brought the beast back to a pitching and rolling carrier, in the middle of the night. Life and death experiences involved with combat aviation (and flying in general) depend on your ability and skill to make intelligent decisions in a heartbeat, if you ever want to survive those moments of sheer terror while in harm’s way. It also helps to be lucky, but you can never depend on luck. Preparation improves the odds.
And so, I feel the impact of my stint in the military has made me realize how important it is to be prepared for future situations. You have to perform a thorough analysis defining and dealing with problems big and small. All possible outcomes, upside and downside, depend how well you plan for them.
Tell us a little bit about your life today, how do you enjoy spending your free time?
I am retired, so there is a lot of free time, they tell me. I’m trying to delay the decay that tends to accompany us as we age. So, I find myself playing squash as best I can, walking the golf course here at 12 Oaks, and augmenting bike rides with at least an hour’s worth of elliptical training and once a week lifting weights (with a trainer). I also am taking Short Game lessons from Ian Renas, hoping that this will save me a few strokes on this challenging golf course we have here.
We love this community and have developed many friendships that naturally occur among those who love the game of golf. Our son and daughter-in-law also live in the 12 Oaks neighborhood, and thus we relish the visits from our twin (two boys) grandchildren. My wife, Deb, has retired. But I think she is even busier than ever… busy writing novels, as well as researching the genealogy of her Irish and Scottish forebears. Oh, I forgot quilting. I’m not much help with that, but she has allowed me to edit her literary works and I really enjoy helping in the publishing process.
We are travelers. Deb and I have played golf in all fifty states, several provinces in Canada, as well as Scotland, Wales and Ireland. Our big trip this year will focus on Ireland. We will be doing some genealogical research, visiting friends, and attending The Open held at Royal Portrush, Northern Ireland.
What is one of your favorite things about living in 12 Oaks?
We moved here ten years ago from the Boston area. We reasoned that it would be hard to pass up a community that boasted of a Nicholas-designed golf course. We thought that when the market rebounded, 12 Oaks would be a prime location. That has come to fruition! The proximity to I-540, the new shops in the Grand Hill Place, and of course, the Club at 12 Oaks all contribute to a very satisfying living experience.
Keep an out for Charlie around the golf course… and be sure to thank him (and all of our veterans and active-duty military residents) for their service.