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Master Sgt. Garceau, The IT Guy

Air Force Master Sgt. Seth Garceau, a member of the 103rd Communications Squadron, stands in front of a satellite dish that he set up, Sept. 30, 2020 at Bradley Air National Guard Base, Conn. The set up was part of an expansive communications project. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Tamara R. Dabney)

Air Force Master Sgt. Seth Garceau, a member of the 103rd Communications Squadron, stands in front of a satellite dish that he set up, Sept. 30, 2020 at Bradley Air National Guard Base, Conn. The set up was part of an expansive communications project. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Tamara R. Dabney)

BRADLEY ANG BASE, Conn. --

As a child growing up before the internet became a global phenomenon, Master Sgt. Seth Garceau never imagined that information technology would be so consequential in his life. One of his earliest childhood memories is playing games on the Microsoft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS) of the 1980s. He recalled later, in the 1990s, he and his friends messaging each other using AOL online service provider.

"Man, let's go back," said Garceau as he tried to remember the exact moment that ignited his lifelong passion for IT. "There wasn't, you know, the internet back then, so I was just doing some word processing, playing Minesweeper (laughs).”

These days, information technology consumes much of Garceau’s life. The 40-year-old husband and father spends almost as much time providing technical support at home as he does at his job as a Client Systems Specialist for the 103rd Airlift Wing, Connecticut Air National Guard. In other words, Garceau is the go-to guy when it comes to IT.

"Not only am I IT support at work, but I get calls and emails from people at home all the time about "help me with this" and "how do I do that with my iPhone,'" said Garceau. I'd say it happens weekly, and they don't pay me for it. But I don't mind."

Garceau is content with spending his weekends responding to homegrown trouble tickets from his wife, parents, children, and friends. In fact, while many of us prefer to spend our free time at home, binge-watching our favorite streaming service, Garceau is typically somewhere building private video-on-demand systems for fun. Garceau, a self-described geek, is passionate about home theater systems, though he's not a movie buff. For him, building an automated home-theater system is about building a system that makes his life easier and enjoyable. If Garceau ruled the world, everything in life would be automated and in sync.

"Everything is connected," said Garceau. "You can stream movies across your home network, kind of like we do with Netflix. You take it for granted, but being able to set it up at your house is a pretty neat thing to do."

Though Garceau's interest in IT began when he was a child, he was not convinced that he wanted to pursue it as a career until he was in his early 20s. He graduated from high school, and like many high school graduates, he enrolled in college without any specific career goal in mind. Garceau only knew that he liked working with his hands. He decided to join the Air National Guard in 2004 after witnessing one of his friends experience success as an IT professional.

"I saw an opportunity to get the technical training that the Air Force provided," said Garceau. "My friend had joined and then got a job working at a satellite teleport, working in communications. I've always enjoyed the hands-on learning, and saw the Air Force provided that, rather than just continue with the book learning with college where I didn't quite know what career I wanted to head toward."

Garceau is now recognized as a leading IT expert at home, with family and friends, and in the Guard. In 2018, Garceau received the Outstanding Senior Non-commissioned Officer of the Year award, which recognized both his job expertise and outstanding performance as an enlisted leader. In his 17 years with the Guard, he has been on numerous missions, for which he provided critical IT support. Recent years have shown that the Air Force needs information technology experts like Garceau to accomplish virtually all types of operations, particularly during emergencies. In 2017, when Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, Garceau supervised the configuration of an emergency system that enabled secure communications between first responders. Three years later, Garceau was activated again in response to a ransomware attack against the city of Hartford, Connecticut. In Hartford, he led a team of Guardsmen in reimaging more than 3,000 computers and hundreds of servers, which enabled school district employees to return to normal operations soon after the attack.

"Our manpower was used to support the city to get them back up and running, and the students were returned to school after missing only one day," said Garceau. "Having the Guard be used for cyber is huge now. If things are breaking, we get there and get them up and running,"

As we continue to discover innovative ways to use information technology to help solve the world’s problems, Garceau expects that his work as an IT expert will only increase.

“The future of cyber, I really think, will be using the Guard for that state support in the cyber world that we really haven't seen before."

Fortunately, Garceau, the go-to guy for IT, does not mind doing the extra work.