It’s all about absolute teamwork and faith and trust in each other. This is the story of a youthful and vital couple who now live in Cerro, New Mexico. SFC Adelita “Lita” Mead (known as DeeDee to her family) grew up in the Cerro area and joined the US Army in 1996, right out of high school. At the time she felt the burning desire to get out and travel to faraway places. I can tell you she certainly met her goal.
Following basic training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, she became a Documentation/Production Specialist or 25V. In my day, they were referred to as combat photographers and Lita says, “We still are!” Per Lita, they use everything from black-and-white film to live broadcasting from the field. As she characterized her job, it was similar to being an embedded reporter with combat units. Lita’s husband Korey joined the Army in 1998. He initially was a mechanic in the Army but reclassified to Mortuary Affairs with the MOS designator 92M. These are the soldiers who supervise recovery and collection of those killed in action, establish tentative identification, and then provide escort and temporary interment of the fallen. Theirs is a truly sacred duty.
By coincidence both Lita and Korey were assigned emergency duties at the Pentagon following the tragedies of 9/11. Although they worked in close proximity, they did not meet until 2004. Rather, they met at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command in Hawaii. Korey had just arrived at the unit when they met and soon they both went to recovery sites in Laos in Southeast Asia. Their recovery teams were able to recover teeth and bone fragments and positively identify the remains of servicemen and women for ultimate repatriation. While there and living in tents, Lita’s birthday came up and Korey made her a “birthday cake” which, according to Lita was really more like a pancake with some candy sprinkled on top, but that was the “icing on the cake.” She fell for Korey and their relationship began to grow.
Following the mission to Southeast Asia, Korey had a couple of recovery missions to North Korea, Belgium, and China. After that, he was sent to Ft. Lee, Virginia for Basic NCO training (Non-commissioned Officer training). Lita planned on getting out of the Army at that point so that they could be together, recognizing that they would constantly be separated due to differing assignments. But Korey encouraged her to stay in and promised they would figure it out. They were married in 2006 in Taos, NM, with Lita coming from Hawaii and Korey from Fort Lee, Virginia.
As is the norm in marriages where both spouses are in the military, Lita stayed in Hawaii for one more year and then went on to a military photojournalism course at Syracuse University while Korey was assigned to the Human Resources Command in Alexandria, Virginia. By the time Lita graduated from Syracuse, she was nine months pregnant. Luckily, upon completion of the training, she was reassigned to Fort Meade, Maryland, which is close to Alexandria. But as fate would have it, Lita was sent to Iraq whereupon Korey immediately took over the care of their newly arrived son, Jesse. At the completion of her tour of duty in Iraq, both Korey and Lita were reassigned to duty in Hawaii. But Korey was then sent to Iraq to help shut down operations there, and Lita was once again on the deployment cycles to search for POW/MIAs. This is where her father stepped up to the plate by coming from Denver to Hawaii to take care of his grandson.
All in all, Lita deployed to Southeast Asia, Europe, and the Pacific, searching for POW/MIAs from Vietnam and World War II including sites in the Philippines, Wake Island, Vanuatu, Cambodia, and Belgium, for a grand total of 21 missions. She had also been assigned to Hohenfels, Germany from 1997-99, and was able to travel to Italy, France, Austria, and the Czech Republic. Korey had three combat tours under his belt before he met Lita.
In 2013, the couple was assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky. At this point, Lita acknowledges that she had to have her mother come help just to keep things together. Lita had a four-month school in Florida to attend Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute (DEOMI) and Korey had a deployment to Liberia, Africa to help combat the Ebola epidemic. Finally, they were able to stay together at Fort Campbell, which is astride the Kentucky / Tennessee border, for about four years when Lita retired from the Army in 2016. Korey then retired two years later, and they moved to Cerro.
Despite retiring from the Army at a very youthful period in their lives, they both keep incredibly busy raising their son and working at a variety of jobs. Lita has a photography business and also has her sights set on completing her bachelor’s degree remotely through Thomas Edison State University. Korey, in his little spare time, enjoys the hunting and fishing opportunities here in northern New Mexico.
As a finale to this most interesting interview, I asked Lita what the secrets were to a successful marriage despite the repeated and prolonged separations on assignments. She immediately listed four things which assured success. First and second, they had to have eternally enduring faith and trust in each other. Secondly, they had to set long-term goals such as moving to Cerro on retirement from the Army. And finally, they had to WORK AS A TEAM. I will let you guess where they learned the critical value of teamwork. Could it have been from their careers in the Army? And, oh yes, Korey and Lita wish to extend everlasting thanks to her parents Charlene and Ruben Chavarria for their enduring faith and support in helping with their most important achievement, their son, Jesse Daniel.
Cerro VFW Post #9516 Elects New Officers – By Adelita Mead
At their monthly meeting on Friday, April 22, the Cerro VFW Post #9516 nominated new officers. Their positions will go into effect in 30 days.
Commander: Korey Mead
Senior Vice Commander: Chris Williams
Junior Vice Commander: Maria Ortega
Quartermaster/Adjutant: Adelita Mead
Honorary Trustee: David Cisneros
(was post commander for over 20 years!)
The post will hold a craft fair on April 30 and May 1, from 10 am to 4 pm, which will include a silent auction and a raffle that will be closed out on Sunday, May 1 at 4 pm. The post is located at 108 Highway 378 in Cerro. For more information, contact (575) 586-1112, or firstname.lastname@example.org.