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Minnesota National Guard
Minnesota aviator setting the conditions for success for his children

Minnesota National Guard For Minnesota Army National Guard Capt Shannon Gregory, being a father is more than just being around for his two sons, Liam, 18, and Gavin, 12

"My primary focus is ensuring that I'm engaging them at all times and not necessarily being in their business, but being about their business," said Gregory

This year, Father's Day carries more meaning for Gregory who spent last Father's Day deployed to Kuwait with Company A, 2nd Battalion, 147th Assault Helicopter Battalion, 34th Combat Aviation Brigade This year is also an important year in his sons' lives as his oldest prepares to go to college and his youngest enters the 8th grade

"I think with being a dad it goes back to the most important thing with kids and with teenagers and pre-teens is ensuring that you have more influence in their life than anybody else does," said Gregory "It's very difficult - especially when it comes to TV, internet, phones, snapchat, facebook and everything else that's going on - it's difficult to get in there and have a vote"

Gregory, who is currently the supervisory instructor pilot at Army Aviation Support Facility #1 in St Paul, says two events in his long military career stand out the most: landing a helicopter on a Navy ship and landing a helicopter at his sons' school

"The best thing I've ever done was to land at my kids' school a few years ago - this is when Liam was in 8th grade - and I was able to land the helicopter at the school in a huge parking lot with all the kids," said Gregory "Hopefully I was able to etch something in their minds that all you kids are pretty important, important enough that we fly a helicopter in here and show it to you"

Throughout his career, Gregory has deployed several times During his time in the Marine Corps to Okinawa, Haiti, the Central African Republic, Liberia and Bosnia, and, most recently, to Kuwait He credits his supportive family for keeping things together at home while he was away

"After a year deployment, I think these guys are well-primed now," said Gregory "I used to call them self-cleaning ovens; they can kind of do their thing and they keep on going I've also been fortunate to have a good wife who's able to take control and run everything"

Gregory and his wife, Melissa, have a long history of military service, both serving in the United States Marine Corps before transferring to the National Guard Growing up in a military family may have influenced Gregory's oldest son, Liam, to choose a military path of his own He was recently admitted to the United States Naval Academy and leaves at the end of the month to begin his military journey

"I first wanted to go to the Naval Academy when I was a sophomore," said Liam Gregory "I always felt like the military was going to happen no matter what I couldn't see myself doing anything else"

In the remaining days before his oldest son leaves, Gregory says he's trying to impart any last minute advice and guidance he can give to help him be successful

"I had the realization about a week ago, 'Ok, I think I've told him everything I could tell him, it's time for him to go forth and set his own course'," said Gregory

As for his youngest son, Gavin, Gregory hopes to guide him toward success, whether he joins the military or pursues another field In the end, for Gregory, fatherhood comes down to setting an example for his sons

"I think the most important thing is setting those conditions for success," said Gregory "I think if you do that as a father - by setting the example and by setting conditions together - I think kids will go as far as they want to go"

June 14, 2013
Story and photos by Sgt. 1st Class Blair Heusdens
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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