Jim Dedmon, right, and his son, Matthew, share a strong bond as West Point graduates and former Army officers.
“Serving my country;” that’s the answer Jim Dedmon gives when asked why he wanted to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and pursue a career as an Army officer. But he quickly adds that saying “serving my country” may sound “corny, but it’s the truth.”
The truth is, Dedmon, IT Product Manager, loved his time in the Army, an experience that gave him a deep sense of appreciation for those who wear or have worn a military uniform. He is among the 114 employees the OUC community salutes on Veterans Day as a small token of appreciation for their service to our country.
Dedmon’s exposure to the military began at Chattanooga (Tenn.) Central High School. He joined the schools’ Junior ROTC program and ascended to commander of his unit. He aspired to attend West Point, one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world, and a congressional appointment made that dream come true.
“I was very interested in West Point and serving my country. I know that sounds corny but it’s the truth,” he said. “I don’t think a lot of people these days, minus military and military families, understand what it means to serve their country. So few, and I mean a really few, get to serve their country in a leadership position. What an awesome responsibility and privilege that is to command troops. It’s just amazing.”
Dedmon served five years active duty as an armor officer, with postings at Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Knox, Ky. In 1984, he relocated to Orlando and transferred to the Army Reserves, reaching the rank of major. If not for a medical issue that cropped up, and has since gone away, he would have served longer than he did, he said.
“I loved being in the Army,” he said. “I’m wearing an Army T-shirt now. My West Point diploma is hung in my home. I always wear my West Point ring.”
Dedmon’s West Point pride is also shared by his son, Matthew. He followed his father’s footsteps, which led him through a high school Junior ROTC program to the Academy, graduating from it in 2009. Matthew Dedmon went on to serve two combat tours in Afghanistan as a helicopter pilot and commander of an aerial drone unit. He transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard as a search and rescue helicopter pilot and is stationed in Clearwater, Fla.
While Jim Dedmon has been out of the Army for quite some time now, he remains very much a product of the principles it instills, particularly so for West Point’s Corps of Cadets: Duty, honor, country.
“I think it helped me understand how to be part of something bigger,” he said, explaining the impact his military service had on him as a civilian. “It taught me how to work as a team and depend on others, and how to work to accomplish the mission and get things done.”