George W. Dickerson, Brigadier General, United States Army
Commander, 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, Vietnam
December 1968 – December 1969
On the morning of December 17, 1968, Brigadier General George W. Dickerson, in a short change of command ceremony at Camp Red Ball, west of Saigon, South Vietnam, received the 3rd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division colors from Brigadier General Alexander R. Bolling, Jr.. He commanded the 3rd Brigade until he brought the Brigade colors back to Fort Bragg, North Carolina in December, 1969.
A native of Warrenton, Virginia, General Dickerson entered the Army as a Second Lieutenant upon graduation from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, Virginia, in 1941.
From 1942 until Dec. 1945, Gen. Dickerson rose from lieutenant to lieutenant colonel while serving as platoon leader, company and task force commander, and eventually division operations officer in the 24th Infantry Division in the Southwest Pacific Theater and he participated in the division’s assault landings in New Guinea and in the Philippines at Leyte, Mindoro, Verde and Mindanao Islands. General Dickerson also commanded an advance team of the Eighth Army’s Occupational Planning Board that landed on Shikoku, Japan, shortly after the Japanese surrender but thirty days ahead of the main occupation forces. He also commanded some of the first troops to occupy Japan after VJ Day.
Upon returning to the United States, he served on the faculty of the Ground General School and the Intelligence School at Fort Riley, Kansas, where he helped to develop the “Aggressor” concept to add realism to field maneuvers and exercises. After completing the Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1950, the General was assigned to the US Occupation Forces in Austria where he served on the commanding general’s staff and commanded the 3d Battalion, 350th Infantry.
From 1953 to 1956, he served as Professor of Military Science and Tactics at Ohio University before attending the Armed Forces Staff College. In Italy he headed up a staff with representatives of six different nations. Later, he became the director of the department of strategy at the U.S. Army War College and the occupant of the prestigious Elihu Root Chair of Strategy.
In 1959, he graduated from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and served as Chief, Plans Division, Office of the Chief of Research and Development at the Pentagon. After graduation, the General commanded the 34th Infantry Regiment, 24th Division, in Korea, and the lst Battle Group, 7th Cavalry Regiment. In 1961, he was selected as the US Army representative to the Joint Advanced Study Group in the Office of the Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff. Going to Naples, Italy, in 1963, he joined Headquarters, Allied Forces, Southern Europe as Chief, Training Division. Under Admiral C. D. Griffin, then Colonel Dickerson served for two years as Secretary of the Combined Staff for the Commander-in-Chief, NATO Southern Flank, composed of representatives of six allied nations. On his return to the States, he occupied the Elihu Root Chair as Chairman of the Department of Strategy, US Army War College.
Promoted to Brigadier General on 5 August 1967, he was assigned as Assistant Chief of Staff, Comptroller, at the US Continental Army Command, Fort Monroe, Virginia. General Dickerson has been initiated into Phi Kappa Phi scholarship honorary fraternity, Omicron Delta Kappa leadership fraternity, and Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. He held Master’s degrees in industrial management and business administration, and taught management to personnel overseas through the University of Maryland’s extension program.
He next took command of the 3rd Brigade (Golden Brigade) of the 82nd Airborne Division in Vietnam. He led the Golden Brigade in counterinsurgency combat operations and pacification efforts until bringing it back to Fort Bragg, N.C., in 1969. To cap a distinguished career of 31 years of service, Gen. Dickerson returned to Europe to serve at Headquarters, United Stated Army Europe and 7th Army.
General Dickerson was awarded the Combat lnfantrymen’s Badge, Silver Star, Bronze Star with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters Air Medal with two Oak Leaf clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal and Army commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster. He was a qualified Parachutist and held the US and Vietnamese Parachutist Badges. In addition, he held the Bronze Arrowhead for participation in combat amphibious assaults in the Pacific, as well as the Presidential Unit Citation.
After his retirement he went on to have a distinguished civilian career. He was one of the pioneers of cable television and served as City Manager of Poquoson, Virginia, for a number of years before his second retirement.
General George W. Dickerson died the morning of June 7, 1999 after a long illness. Although he was in very poor health and had been confined to a convalescent center, he was so very proud to have served with us in Vietnam. Above his bed was a small patch that read “82nd Airborne Division, Vietnam, 1968-69”. His wife Lois was so gracious and appreciative that he was not forgotten.
Brigadier General Dickerson was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery on June 16, 1999 at 3:00 PM. Representation from The Golden Brigade Chapter was present.
- I was hit on 12-10-68 and woke up on 12-17-68 at the 24th evac hospital in Long Binh. Shortly after waking up, I don’t remember the exact day, but General Dickerson walked up to my bed and asked how I was doing. Needless to say I was really surprised to have a one star talking to me.
Comment by Keith Allen — September 22, 2011
- I was at the 3rd Field Hospital, Saigon after being wounded on 12 July 1969. The next day General Dickerson came towards my bed & I recognized him immediately so I quickly struggled to get out of bed to stand at attention. He placed his hand on me & told me I didn’t have to get up for him. After checking on my health, he asked if I knew the cause of my incident in which we suffered casualties then told me to get better then moved on. That was the only time I ever met him & I felt better that General Dickerson showed concern for my health.
Comment by Rick Talioaga, A 1/505 — September 25, 2011