All this Irish teen wanted to do was fight for America
Baryla also said that under the “international soldiers program” Dean could qualify to be part of the army.
“This was one of his lies. It was the one that hurt me the most,” said Dean.
Dean’s father paid Baryla $3,310 for a five week course that was due to take place last summer. He was told to purchase the required uniforms himself, pay for his flights, health insurance, medical background and provide his own spending money.
Overall, O’Neill said they raised and spent close to $10,000 to send Dean to the camp.
“We had to use all our savings, plus I sold many of my own things together, like my Xbox, all my games, TV even my computer and a host of other stuff to the pay for it all,” added the young Irish man.
Late June, Dean was ready to start on the road to what hoped would be eventual induction into the U.S. Army.
He set off to New Jersey from Dublin. He spent a few days with his uncle who lives in New Jersey before he was due to begin his cadet camp. He was overly excited.
“I couldn’t wait to get started. What I always dreamed about was about to come true,” he said.
The day before Dean was due to begin his course he got a call that devastated him to the core.
The Ocean County Police Department told him the camp had been shut down and that the organizer, Baryla, was arrested on charges of distributing child pornography, impersonating a military officer and fraud.
“At first I thought it was a joke, that my father had set someone up to do it as a laugh, but when I realized it was for real I was just shocked. I was scared, heartbroken and most of all anger for being lied too. I felt betrayed,” Dean said.
Trying to come to terms with the major disappointment he was experiencing, Dean wanted to go home but he had a non-refundable flight. He stayed the five weeks with an Irish American family that was also duped by Baryla.
“Kathleen Loughran from Lakewood, New Jersey, who after all that happening with her children not getting to attend the camp took me in, gave me a bed and food to eat,” he said.
After hearing the news of what happened to Dean, the U.S. Army Cadet Academy in Millersburg contacted his father and offered Dean a place in their camp.
“It was a great offer but we would have to pay all over again, and with little to no money we just couldn’t manage it,” he said.
Baryla had been running camps for many years pretending that he was a former military officer. The Ocean County prosecutor’s office told the Irish Voice on Tuesday that Baryla’s case is still pending grand jury action. Baryla is out on bail. The camp has been shut down.
After arriving back in Ireland, with no military experience under his belt, Dean put his head down and focused on coming back to the U.S. this year to attend the cadet camp in Millersburg.
In an effort to earn enough money to come back Dean works part time in a computer store, earning about $40 a shift. His father is a stay at home dad.
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