Living the Dream

PROVO, Utah – Nov 22, 2019 – For Colonel Frederick Thaden, his selection as the department chair of BYU Marriott’s Department of Aerospace Studies, also known as BYU Air Force ROTC Detachment 855, is a dream come true. Thaden has returned to BYU twenty-eight years after he graduated from BYU and commissioned in the U.S. Air Force. 

“Being the commander of Detachment 855 is a dream job for me,” says Thaden. “The number one thing that I wanted to do before ending my career in the Air Force was to come back to BYU and the Air Force ROTC program here.” 

Thaden graduated from BYU in 1991 with a BS in psychology. During his time at BYU, Thaden also participated in the BYU Air Force ROTC program. Returning to BYU as a professor has given Thaden the chance to see what has changed about the program during his time away from BYU. “The curriculum has certainly changed,” says Thaden. “The current curriculum better prepares our cadets to be in the Air Force and to be in the U.S. Armed Forces with the Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard.” 

However, some things about the program haven’t changed. “My office now was the commander’s office when I was a student here,” Thaden notes. “I rarely wanted to come in here because sometimes when you went to the commander’s office, it was a bad thing. Hopefully that's not the way cadets feel about it now, because I love to meet with the cadets.”

He is also excited to return to BYU as a professor in the aerospace studies department because of his respect for Detachment 855. “In the Air Force, when somebody knows that you've graduated from Detachment 855, they know that program produces high-quality cadets,” says Thaden. “Being part of such a respected program is exciting for me.”

Thaden is also eager to teach the cadets in Detachment 855. “I appreciate young men and women who want to serve in the Air Force,” says Thaden. “I wanted to be part of this great opportunity that we have to bring in America's youth, turn them into officers, and let them go on to have a great career in the Air Force.”

Thaden hopes the leadership skills cadets gain in the program will prepare them for future service in the military. “We want the cadets to be confident in their job,” says Thaden. “We want them to be good leaders, and we want them to take care of their fellow airmen.”

After Thaden’s graduation from BYU, he went on to earn a master’s of education at the University of Dayton, a master’s degree in military operational art and science from the United States Air Force Air Command and Staff College, and a master’s degree in national security strategy from the National Defense University.

Before his return to BYU, Thaden had two deployments, one to the Middle East and one to Europe; served as the vice commander of the 75th Air Base Wing, located at the Hill Air Force Base in Utah; acted as the director of manpower, personnel, and services at Air Mobility Command; and served simultaneously as the installation commander of the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst and the wing commander of the base’s host wing, the 87th Air Base Wing. Previous to his current position at BYU, Thaden worked at the Pentagon on the air staff.

Thaden is also happy to return to BYU as a professor because he is able to make BYU a home again with his family. “My family has been with me throughout my career,” he says. “They've lived in seventeen different homes and three different countries. Having a parent in the military while you’re a child is not easy, but they were great. I certainly couldn't have done what I've done in the Air Force, and I couldn’t do what I'm doing in Detachment 855 without my awesome kids and my great wife, DeeDee.”

Colonel Frederick Thaden
Colonel Frederick Thaden. Photo courtesy of BYU Photo.
Colonel Thaden is the department chair of the BYU Marriott aerospace studies department. Photo courtesy of Erin Ricks.
Colonel Thaden is the department chair of BYU Marriott's Department of Aerospace Studies. Photo courtesy of Erin Ricks.

Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Natalia Green