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From sea to open prairie

Dan Lanotte retired as a lieutenant commander with the United States Navy, after more than 31 years of service. As an intelligence officer, he has been assigned to ships and military bases, including Cheyenne Mountain and Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado.Lanotte is a native of Colorado ìby accident,î he said. His fatherís job as a general manager for a trucking company took the family to Denver, where Lanotte was born. When he was just 6 months old, the family moved to Salt Lake City; two years later, they moved to Los Angeles.In 1953, Lanotteís parents returned to their home state of Texas and landed in Lubbock. Lanotte grew up in Texas, graduated from high school in1964 and attended Texas Christian University. He left college to join the Navy. ìI tell people I joined the Navy because Iím allergic to everything that grows, turns green and occasionally blossoms,î he said. ìAnd thereís none of that out at sea.îIn 1975, Lanotte finished technical school in San Diego and received orders to board the USS Texas. In 1978, he began teaching sonar maintenance and advanced electronics to Iranian sailors in San Diego; however, that ended when the Shah was forced out of Iran. ìAll the Iranian sailors left town that day,î Lanotte said. ìFrom what I understand, they had two hours to pack their gear and get on a plane.îHe continued to teach the same class to American sailors until 1981.Lanotte also met his second wife, Rocal, or ìRocky,î in church during that period. They were married in November in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1981 ó one day after Lanotte completed Officer Candidate School. A month later, they headed to Denver; where Lanotte attended intelligence school for six months. After completing the course, the Lanottes returned to San Diego, and Lanotte spent the next four years working with an F 14 Air Force Squadron at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.In 1982, Lanotte was deployed on the USS Enterprise in the North Arabian Sea. It was the first time he had been assigned to an aircraft carrier. ìI could not believe the size; and, by this time, I had been in the Navy 15 years,î he said. ìI looked at that thing and thought, ëThis thing really floats?íî Lanotte said the anchors on the aircraft carrier weigh more than most ships; the flight deck measured close to 4 acres in size. His first deployment on the USS Enterprise lasted eight months, followed by a second six-month deployment in 1984.His next assignment took him to the Naval Air Station Point Mugu in California for four years. There, he served as an intelligence officer for the air test and evaluation squadron and as the operations officer for the base self-defense force. ìIf someone were to try and invade the base, we would stop them,î he said. ìItís like a mini S.W.A.T. team.îLanotte developed an avid interest in shooting, and joined the base shooting team. He also spent two years on the Navy shooting team. Lanotte said that Navy SEALs comprised about 60 percent of the Navy shooting team. He also competed against other military personnel and civilians. ìI got to the point where I was teaching and coaching other members of the team,î he said.In the late 80s, Lanotte received orders for Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Base; and he and his wife began searching for a house in the county. ìWe looked at a bunch of houses, from Woodland Park to out to here (Falcon), and this was the only place that didnít have neighbors 6 feet away,î he said. They purchased a house in Falcon, and Lanotte worked at the mountain base the first two years and then one year at Peterson Air Force Base.Lanotte returned to sea in 1991, serving as the assistant intelligence officer for the USS Abraham Lincolnís flag command. In 1994, Lanotte returned to Peterson Air Force Base as a section chief for one of the space analysis branches. He stayed there for two years before returning to Cheyenne Mountain as the operations officer for the intelligence watch.In June 1997, Lanotte retired from the Navy and began working as a government contractor.In 1998, he started his own business, Carpenterís Mate, building custom-made furniture. ìIíve been building custom furniture off and on for over 50 years,î he said. ìWhen I wasnít at sea, I was building something.îLanotte operated his business for five years, when, in 2003, he was contracted to work as an enterprise architect for SI International (now known as Serco). Nine years later, the company experienced a layoff so Lanotte went to work for Sigmatech, before that companyís layoff left him out of work. He retired from contracting.In 2007, Lanotte had started a side business called Falcon Personal Security, based on his experience with the Navy shooting teams. ìIt was just something I had an interest in doing because I love teaching fire arm safety and personal protection,î he said. Lanotte is certified in basic pistol, advanced pistol, rifle and shotgun; and personal protection in and outside the home.Lanotte also is a certified NRA training counselor, chief range safety officer; and is certified to teach the class, ìRefuse to be a Victim.îLanotte said most of the people that take his classes are applying for a concealed carry permit. ìThe basic pistol class satisfies the training requirements for the state of Colorado for concealed handgun permit,î he said. ìIt tells you what the parts of a pistol are and how they operate. It doesnít go into the mindset of carrying because it is not a concealed carry class.îPeople taking his basic pistol classes do not have to own a weapon. Lanotte said his students often ask him what type of gun to purchase for the class. ìI tell them, ëDonít.í I will put enough guns in their hands so they can see what fits right and what feels good,î he said.Lanotte said his classes are about the Doís and Doníts. ìThe things you should not do are at least as important, if not more important, than the things you should do,î he said. Awareness is most important. ìEverybody in the world has a little radar inside their head,î Lanotte said. ìNot consciously, but subconsciously you understand if something is coming up behind you or around you.îThe seas are now behind Lanotte and the prairie surrounds him. He said he found pleasure on the open seas, but he now enjoys living in Falcon amid the openness of the Colorado prairie.†

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