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Stafford County resident Garrett Camacho carries on a family tradition and a lifetime fondness of the kitchen as a combat cook
Lance Cpl. Garrett Camacho cooks steaks on a makeshift grill. He was inspired by family members in the military and a passion for cooking.
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"Whatever [the cooks] get, if they can be a little creative with it, it makes it more special for those Marines who are away from home," Jesse Camacho said. "Marines are really appreciative of any little touch that you might do."
During his 26 years in the Corps, Jesse Camacho served as a combat cook in Kuwait and the Philippines. He currently manages the aide program, which oversees households and social functions of senior officers for the entire Marine Corps.
Garrett Camacho would like to do the same and hopes to spend at least 20 years in the Corps. His goal is to become a warrant officer.
He has a lot of military experience in his family to draw from.
His father, Jose, was a Marine sergeant, and he lives in Texas.
His sister, Emily, is 24 and married to a Marine captain at Quantico.
His brother, Dean, is 21 and a sonar technician on a fast-attack submarine. He's currently on deployment for six months.
His younger brother, Dayton, is 17 and will graduate from high school next year. He's considering attending Virginia Military Institute. If he becomes a Navy officer, Dean vows that he won't salute him.
Camacho's stepfather, Richard Allen, was a lieutenant commander who spent 21 years in the Navy. Allen swore Camacho into the Corps and watched the young man get shipped off to boot camp at Parris Island, S.C.
The same day, Allen returned to Stafford and went for a jog.
"He never came home," said Shannon Allen, his widow and Camacho's mother. Allen died of sudden cardiac death at age 39. He hadn't had any health problems to that point, she said.
Shannon Allen knows the military service kept the family grounded through the ordeal.
So did their family ties. She stayed closed to Jesse Camacho and his wife, Jennifer, even after she divorced Jesse's brother.
When she and Allen married, each brought two children to the union. She adopted his, and he considered himself a father to hers. In the beginning, the couple had three boys and one girl--ages 6, 8, 9 and 13--under one roof.
Things have gotten quieter as each has assumed a military assignment. Allen has a flag with three blue stars hanging from her front window.
When a combat reporter did the story on Garrett's speciality in March, Allen said she's certain it made her late husband as proud as it did the rest of the family.
"That was one for the cooks," she said.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425