East Granby Woman To Join Navy Leadership Ranks

Casey Ouellette is nearing the end of her training at the Navy Officer Candidate School in Rhode Island

NBC Universal, Inc.

While those who have served the country are being honored this Veterans Day, there are young people with boots on the ground just beginning their military careers.

One of them is Casey Ouellette. The East Granby native is nearing the end of her training in Newport, Rhode Island at the Navy Officer Candidate School.

For years, it was all about flying spins, Ouellette soaring across the ice as a synchronized skater.

“My mom took me to the rink when I was 2 years old,” she said. “I made my first USA team when I was 12. Just an outstanding experience to be part of a team and get to represent the United States on the world stage.”

Next, she plans to glide through the skies. Now retired from skating, Ouellette has traded in her figure skates for boots.

“It's very funny how similar the two are,” she said.

Ouellette joined the Navy in hopes of replicating the camaraderie she found with Team USA.

“When I came here, I was looking for something that was the closest to the team sport that I had,” Ouellette said. “And this is provided that between the teamwork, the dedication, the courage that people show, the commitment.”

At the Navy Officer Candidate School, Ouellette is taking part in a grueling 13-week program that puts candidates to the test physically, mentally, and morally.

“We learned engineering and weapons history, navigation, which was definitely a challenge,” Ouellette said. “We also did a lot of physical training. And definitely, it's just a mental challenge to be away from home friends, family without a lot of communication.”

The program is preparing her to join the ranks of Navy leadership.  

“Being from such a small town, the population of East Grandby is about 3,000 people,” Ouellette said. “The Navy to me was so intriguing because an aircraft carrier can hold about 6,000 people. So to me, being on a boat that's twice the size of my town was just something that mesmerized me and I always wanted to be part of.”

Her father, Ken Ouellette, says growing up, she always had a fighting spirit.

“Casey’s quite a diverse person does a lot of things. She skated ever since she's been like, 4 years old. And she drove race cars ever since she was 4 or 5 years old,” Ken Ouellette said.

As a kid, she did not hesitate to help out at his business.

“Sometimes if we needed an extra worker out of field. She'd go and get pipe,” Ken Ouellette said.

However, her fighting spirit was put to the test when she lost her mom. Cancer took her three years ago.

“It was a long illness of about three years, four years,” Ken Ouellette said. “When she went to get an operation, they gave her two weeks. She got 18 months of pretty good life after that, and then it got kind of bad after that.”

Today, Ouellette’s dad knows that her mom would be a little worried, but ultimately very proud of her daughter’s new path.

“She's not a quitter,” he said. “She'll stay there until it's done, and she'll push her way through.”

When Ouellette graduates this month, she is headed to Naval Air Station Pensacola, where she will continue training to become a flight officer.

“I'm so excited, very excited to be here,” she said.

It’s a new dream taking wing: to serve the Navy and the Nation.

“It's the opportunity of a lifetime,” Ouellette said. “I'm very happy to be here and just thankful for all the support that we get here from our friends and family, and the incredible people in our country.”

Contact Us