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AF dependent recognized as 2014 Military Child of Year

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Devon Suits
  • Air Force News Service
An 18-year-old Air Force dependent from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, was recognized for his achievements and dedication to service at the 6th Annual Military Child of the Year Awards Gala here, April 10.

During the Operation Homefront-hosted event, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey recognized Gage Dabin and four other dependents from each branch of military service, for their strength, courage, patriotism and resiliency as military children.

“To be a military child, it is an amazing experience and a chance of a lifetime,” Gage said. “I can’t sum it up in value. It gives me the experience to meet new friends and discover who I really am.”

Presenting the award to Gage was Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III.

“What’s amazing about Gage is when you talk to him, it takes about five seconds before you realize -- what Gage is ... is life,” Welsh said. “Everything is an opportunity to him; he’s excited about everything he does.”

The annual event honors the sacrifices of more than 2 million military children with particular recognition for the extraordinary academic and community achievements.

“It seems like people want to write off young folks as not caring about things; clearly that’s not the case here,” Welsh said. “The volunteer hours, the attention they pay to each other, the way all of them take care of people and their families; it’s just remarkable -- makes you feel pretty good about the future.”

Gage said one thing that inspires him to help others was the generosity he saw from his church when his mother was diagnosed with cancer.

“I pushed myself when I was younger,” Gage said. "(The church) showed me that if I am able to give some of my time to help someone, then I can probably change their life. Now that experience is worth everything to me which allows me to push myself harder and be there for my community.”

Back home in Alaska, Gage served on the Anchorage’s Promise: Youth Advisory Board, which helped launch a citywide campaign called “Random Texts of Kindness” that highlighted the importance of bullying awareness and suicide prevention. He also volunteers at a local VA Hospital, a homeless shelter and food bank.

Gage credits his parents for helping him find that balance in his life between his school work, sports and community service.
“My parents told me you can only put so much on your plate,” Gage said. “So before I went into high school, I said, ‘This is what I am going to be a part of; this is what I am going to do and this is how I am going to do it.'

“You’re not going to start something unless it means something to you and if you give up on it so easy, then it must not be that important to you – if I start something I must finish it,” he said.

Gage’s father, Senior Master Sgt. Tobias Adam, the deputy fire chief with the 673rd Civil Engineer Squadron at Elmendorf, and his mother, Jennifer, accompanied him to the gala. Gage also has two brothers, Corben and Tobias, and one sister, Tori, who couldn’t make it to the evening’s festivities.

Adam spoke about what this award means to him and his family and how Gage was able to deal with his demanding workload.

“It feels good. All the sacrifices we asked them to make for my career, we obviously led them in the right direction and we haven’t hurt them like we thought we did.” Adam said. “The way (Gage) has been able to prosper really shows you how resilient military children are.

“When he was really young I had to sit him and down and say, ‘Dad is going to be gone a lot,’” he said. “Half of my life was spent away from my family. So it was one of those talks that said, ‘You are the man of the house when I am not here’ -- he really took that to heart.”

Being told by his father that he was the man of the house wasn’t the only thing Gage took to heart.

“When I was a young man, (my father) looked at me and said, ‘Your yes is your yes, and your no is your no.’” Gage said. “You always must value integrity. Trust is the most important thing. I built upon that for my relationships and work for my community.”

(Amaani Lyle, American Forces Press Service, contributed to this article)