Dean O’Neill

All this Irish teen wanted to do was fight for America


Dean O’Neill

“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.

When asked if he ever thought about joining the Irish Army he said he did, but he doesn’t see the point.

“You learn all the solider skills but you would rarely get to use them. You don't get adventure, skills or get to see the world like you would in the U.S. Army,” Dean said.

Looking ahead to the future, Dean is hoping to start college in the New Mexico Military Institute in the next year or two, but finances are a big issue. Although he is working as much as he can in between his studies, the cost of a year’s study in the college in close to $20,000 according to Dean.

“I got my cadet enrolment number in the mail the other day. It seems like paradise, but it’s going to cost the earth. It’s looking a bit doubtful,” he says.

“I’ll not be able go as there is no way we can get the money that’s needed. My father and I will have to put our heads together on this one to find the finances.”

After the heartache and overwhelming disappointment at the turn of events last summer, Dean has secured a five-week placement in the military cadet camp in Kentucky this summer beginning in June.

“I’m just hoping it will be all smooth sailing this year and I will finally get to start my military career,” he hopes.

By attending the cadet camp and hopefully securing a place in the New Mexico Military Institute, Dean feels it will give him a leg up on the ladder of joining the Army. The rules are still the same, but Dean has recently discovered a potential way around it.

“I’ve just found out about the MAVNI project,” he said.

The MAVNI program allows certain non-citizens who are legally present in the U.S. for two years to join the U.S. military and apply immediately for citizenship without first obtaining a green card.

“So if I can do maybe two years in New Mexico Military Institute then I may well qualify for MAVNI,” he said.

Dean, who is currently preparing for his final year exams, is not afraid of the deathly consequences that may arise from a career in the army.

“I was asked many times, ‘If you get in what if you die?’ I always answer with the same answer -- I would rather my military funeral than another 9/11,” he said.

 “I want to help defend America from something as brutal as that and try stopping it from ever happing again. I’m not frightened.”
“At times I feel like giving up, because it is hard, but in the end it will all be worth it if this works out for me. At the moment I won't let it defeat me because as my father always taught me defeat isn't falling down, defeat is not trying to get up again. So every time I fall down, I will keep getting back up.”


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