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Guard officer’s varied background a plus when serving

Maj. Ryan Dkyes, Washington Army National Guard, believes that the Guard is the state’s best kept secret in the military in all that does for the state and the nation. Photo credit: Courtesy photo

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Maj. Ryan Dykes approaches whatever he does in a non-stop manner.

"It's hard for me to sit and not be doing something," the Washington Army National Guard operations officer and full-time administrative officer (AO) for the 420th Chemical Battalion at the Yakima Readiness Center began. "I think this is why I like serving in the Guard - it keeps me moving and thinking all the time." 

When not working at the center, he likes to work with wood.

As a youngster Dykes liked anything outside, and one of those activities had to do with skateboarding.

"I was big into it ... and when I was 13 or 14, I wanted to build some skateboarding ramps," continued the Omak native. "My grandfather helped me build some, and this is one of the reasons why I got into wood working."

But that wasn't all that interested Dykes; he was also fascinated with flying and going into space. 

"I had always wanted to be in the military, and I was leaning more towards the Air Force," he continued "but I could not become a pilot because of my vision."

He enlisted in the Army in 2005 and served as a medic. Two years later, and with the support of his company commander, he applied for the Green to Gold Program to earn his commission.

"We had just gotten back from deployment in Iraq, and we had just completed the 4th Infantry Division's move to Fort Carson, Colorado when I expressed an interest in becoming an officer," explained Dykes. "He fully supported that and gave me the time to jump through all the hoops to apply and be accepted. I don't think I would be where I am today without his support."

As a Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) cadet, he attended Central Washington University. In 2008 he joined the WAANG, and in 2009 he earned his undergraduate degree in anthropology and his commission.

A few years later, Dykes earned a Master of Science in a field that allowed him to remain connected to his focus on outer space, specifically with the astronaut selection process.

"With the expansion of the commercial reality of spaceflight, I have the possibility to lead another career once I retire," he added.

In his spare time, he started a wood working business.

"I make furniture and other items like cutting boards, charcuterie boards, benches, tables to name a several," he continued. "It's something that clears my mind and keeps me thinking and making. I think it helps me as a member of the Guard because it is an outlet that is fun and challenging."

As the 420's administrative officer, he ensures that the training on drill weekends and for annual training across the battalion's six companies is planned, sourced and coordinated.

"The position I am in allows me to serve full time and remain in the state I was born in," concluded Dykes. "The Guard is one of the best kept secrets in the military, and it's an amazing opportunity to serve the community that I grew up in."

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