Every reader of The Kentucky Explorer, no doubt, has a special memory. Why not write it down and share it here in this column? Help preserve the story of our vanishing past for today and tomorrow. We need memories and photographs from every part of Kentucky and beyond.
When submitting your "I Remember" stories, please include any photographs or illustrations, if you have them. Though not a requirement, photos do add a lot of appeal to your story.
Following Your Dreams
As a young boy growing up on the right hand fork of Buffalo Creek in Owsley County, Kentucky, Wayne Dean had high hopes of a better life and dreams of seeing the world and serving in the military.
Wayne's very first experience with the military was when he saw his father, Ed, and his uncle, Ray Dean, wearing their Navy uniforms; while home on leave, shortly after WWII. This left such a strong impression on young Wayne that, from that day onward, his goal was to one day see the world, while serving his country in the United States Navy.
Growing up on Buffalo Creek during the 1940s and 1950s was a challenge. A daily occurrence was walking the two miles to the Highland schoolhouse, where grades one through eight were taught.
School lunch often consisted of a homemade bacon and biscuit sandwich, made by his mother, Ollie, which Wayne carried to school in a one-gallon lard bucket. Families on the right hand fork of Buffalo Creek were short on money and things of luxury, but love and strong family values were plentiful. Food generally consisted of what you could grow, hunt (rabbit or squirrel), or a catch of fresh fish. Unlike current times, fish were plentiful in the creeks back then.
Despite these difficult times, it was a strong family upbringing and desire to succeed that conditioned Wayne for a long and highly-successful military career.
Despite the tears of his mother, Wayne left Buffalo Creek on his 17th birthday to join the Navy at Richmond, Kentucky. The fact that he possessed only an eighth-grade education never deterred or diminished his desire or efforts to succeed in the Navy. Wayne served 32 years in the Navy and advanced to Master Chief Petty Officer (E9), the highest enlisted rank in the military, a rank very few sailors ever reach during their naval careers.
During this 32-year naval career, Wayne served in many sea and shore locations, obtained numerous awards, improved his education, and is proud to be a Vietnam veteran.
The highlight of his naval career of was his four-year tour as a recruit company commander at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois. This assignment also gave him the opportunity to return to the base where he, his father, uncle, and a brother all went through training; which was a historic event for him. It was in this capacity as a company commander that Wayne trained and conditioned many young men in the art of becoming productive and successful sailors.
Wayne has now retired from the Navy and resides in Riverview, Florida. Roots remain extremely vital to him and, when not at home with his wife, Cindy, he spends as much time in Owsley and Clay counties as possible. Spending time outdoors in the Kentucky mountains is something he cherishes and does so at every opportunity.
Wayne is addicted to fishing and considers the South Fork of the Kentucky River, below Oneida, where his brother, Mike, owns a cabin, the world's best-kept secret fishing hole. Wayne is the son the late Ed and Ollie Dean of Oneida. He has four children and five grandchildren.
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