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Dennis Redding
Joseph W. Martin, Jr. Distinguished Alumni Award

When Dennis Redding entered NAHS in the fall of 1953, this much was known: he was a product of the Plainville school system who was being raised by a single mother, he was related to the Beaupres, and he could play a little ball. When he graduated in 1958, having served all four years as class president, Dennis had established himself as a natural-born leader and a talented student-athlete. These qualities served him well as he embarked on a distinguished military career that spanned 27 years of active duty and included two Meritorious Service Medals and two Legions of Merit.

Upon graduation, Dennis prepped for one year at Deerfield Academy then spent 2 1/2 years at Brown University before enlisting in the United States Air Force. He continued his education in the Air Force, earning both a BA and MA in Education from Chapman University in Orange, CA.

Dennis received his commission and aviation wings from the Aviation Cadet program in 1964 and spent the early days of his Air Force career assigned to the Strategic Air Command as a B-52 Radar Navigator. It was the height of the Cold War and most of his time was spent on "seven day alert cycles" ready at a moment's notice to take to the skies in bombers armed with nuclear weapons. Dennis also saw his share of active combat duty, with multiple tours of duty in Southeast Asia. He flew over 300 combat missions, earning 12 Air Medals and two Distinguished Flying Crosses. Later, he was promoted to the position of Chief of Strategic Bombing and Navigation for the Strategic Air Command.

In 1983 he was selected to attend the senior officer’s Naval War College in Newport, RI, and was promoted to Colonel. This began what Dennis describes as the most rewarding time of his military career. Initially serving as a Base Commander at Sheppard AFB, one of the largest training bases in the Air Force, he then was deployed to The Netherlands as the commander of an organization charged with constructing and activating a tactical nuclear missile wing. Working closely with the Dutch Ministry of Defense, the U.S. Department of Defense and the U.S. Embassy, Dennis drew not only on his military expertise, but also political and social sensibilities in order to navigate the delicate terrain of introducing nuclear weapons in Woensdrecht, a small farming community in the southern part of the country. However, shortly after he accomplished this task in record time, President Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, part of a series of historic nuclear non-proliferation treaties signed during the period and a portend to the end of the Cold War. Redding’s next duty was to de-activate the very wing he had worked so diligently to establish during one of the most challenging and exciting missions of his career.

After one last assignment as base commander at Zweibrucken Air Base in Germany, he retired from active duty, but he did not rest. Instead, Dennis spent the first seven years of his so-called retirement with FedEx Corporation in Memphis as a manager in their flight training department. During his tenure with the company, he was awarded the FedEx Five Star Award, the most prestigious award for service and leadership given by the company. After retiring, again, in 1996, he and Betty, his high school sweetheart and wife of 44 years, moved back to New England to be closer to their family.

Throughout his military career and retirement, Dennis has maintained his passion for sports, serving as a youth hockey coach and a USGF gymnastics judge for several years, in addition to officiating both high school and collegiate football games throughout the United States and Europe. In 2003, he began a three-year stint as the Supervisor of Football Officials for the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), and he currently works for the Ivy, Patriot and Colonial football conferences as an evaluator of officials.

For all his accomplishments around the globe on the military stage, Dennis still finds the greatest satisfaction in his family. He and Betty are proud parents of two children, Kevin and Kathy, who have brought them great joy and happiness and three super grandchildren-- Kailey, Erin and Zoe.