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Dean Merida

“Back in 1984 all my friends were joining the service.  Patriotism was at an all-time high it seemed,” Merida explained.  “I was set to leave for Paris Island on January 5th as a Marine.  Then, my sister passed away.”  Merida tried to get the date pushed back for six months in order to have grieving time, but the Marines wouldn’t allow that.

Meanwhile, Sergeant Major Leon Disney approached Merida about joining the guards.  Merida explained his situation and told Disney that he would, but the Marines wouldn’t even let him push back his departure date.  The two of them went to the Armory and Colonel Boog Martin promised, “I’ll take care of this, but you will have to do something for me.”  

In six months, Merida received word that it was time for him to fulfill his promise.  Therefore, he went to Recruiter Don Lawson and signed up for the National Guards that day.  Looking back, He exclaims, “It was the greatest experience I’ve ever had besides my kids.”

During his 23-year service, Merida was sent to Frankfort, Germany for a year to secure bases after 9/11.  Then, he was sent to Iraq for a year on a security mission.  The rest of his time has been spent in camps and on missions in the United States.

Merida admitted, “Leaving your family is always hard, but you learn to push your family to the side of your mind in order to keep your head straight.  If you don’t, you’ll get yourself or someone else killed. One mistake is critical in life or death.”

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