Gregory “Deke” Gassett (’80 Crim. Jus.) already had a Drug Enforcement Administration Purple Heart, Medal of Valor and Kevlar Survivors Award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and Washington State University Alumni Achievement Award. Now the retired DEA agent can add the Secretary of Defense Medal for the Defense of Freedom to his collection of honors. The medal, created in 2001, is the civilian equivalent of the US military’s Purple Heart.
After retiring from the DEA in 2008 as the assistant special agent in charge of the Seattle field division, Gassett served as an international law enforcement executive mentor and program manager, supporting the US mission in Afghanistan for nearly ten years. In late 2011, he and his partner, both contractors, were attacked by insurgents after a meeting in Kabul. Their vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, and both men were injured.
Nearly ten years later, in June 2021, Gassett received the Defense of Freedom medal by the authority of General Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., commander of the US Marine Corps.
At WSU Pullman, Gassett volunteered at the community crisis center and as a mentor in the Whitman County juvenile probation office. He was presented with a Washington state volunteer award. After a bomb exploded in Streit-Perham Hall, where he was a resident advisor in 1979, he organized fundraising for WSU police to acquire more protective Kevlar vests. A Kevlar vest protected him as a DEA agent during a 1986 shoot-out with drug traffickers. In 2016, Gassett received the Alumni Achievement Award for his law enforcement career, volunteer work, and Cougar spirit.