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By Dave Smith, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs staff writer
/ Published June 22, 2016
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Tech. Sgt. Sean Dastas, 21st Operations Support Squadron, right, recites the oath of enlistment back to his mother, Capt. Stephanie Lawton, 9th Medical Group at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., June 15, 2016. Dastas was reenlisted for another four years by his mother, who traveled from California for the occasion. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rose Gudex)
After 11 years in the Air Force, Tech. Sgt. Sean Dastas, 21st Operations Support Squadron, decided to stay in what could be called the family business, by re-enlisiting for another four years. The ceremony was performed by Capt. Stephanie Lawton, 9th Medical Operations Squadron, Beale Air Force Base, who is Dastas’ mother.
The Air Force blue runs deep in Dastas’ family. Along with he and his mother, his sister Tech. Sgt. Pamela Garside, 21st Dental Squadron, his father was an Airman, his younger brother is an Airman, their step-sister is an Airman, Dastas' wife Laura was an Airman, his brother-in-law is an Airman and Garside's husband Matt was an Airman. Claiming a heritage like that, his choice to continue his Air Force career was nearly a given.
“I’ll probably be in as long as they let me stay,” he said. “I’m still learning and I like my job. It’s a pretty good gig.”
This was the first time in his career his mother officiated in his reenlistment. She officiated the initial enlistment of his brother before, and since she retires in 2017, the time seemed right to approach her about doing the same for him.
“I knew she’d be here on leave,” Dastas said, “it was within my window (of reenlisting) and she is near retirement so I asked her if she would. It kind of solidified that my family is the Air Force.”
“I felt very honored to be asked to do this,” Lawton said. “I have done several re-enlistments for co-workers and retirements for some close associates. It is an honor to be asked to be part of any military member's career, but to have my son ask me is very special. It meant that his re-enlisting was an important event and he wanted significant individuals to participate. It is a once in a lifetime event for both of us.”
He is happy with his place in the Air Force, so when the time came, Dastas didn’t have to take a long time pondering his decision. Lawton is not surprised her son took to the Air Force life so well. She didn’t point him to the service, but he was born on a naval base in Rota, Spain when Lawton served in the Navy for seven years before commissioning in the Air Force, so he was familiar enough with the life.
“He was also very involved with Boy Scouts and always did very well in structured environments,” Lawton said. “He really came up with (enlisting) on his own. He enlisted in Sept. 2004, the same year I commissioned.” Keeping it a family affair, Garside also joined that year.
“We’ve got a really good quality of life in the Air Force,” said Dastas. “The job I do is something I enjoy doing and right now the military is where I feel comfortable. And I feel good about the mission.”
He said a lot has changed since he took the initial oath of enlistment at the age of 18. During his time in blue, Dastas’ career has not so much changed his life, as it has caused him to gain a clearer view of things.
“Commitment to family has always been there, but the depth of commitment might not be there if I was not in the Air Force,” he said. “It broadened the sense of what family means and what you are willing to commit to that family. Fellow Airmen and friends can be family.”