Navy ROTC commander retires after 31 years

Capt. Richard Dick, the first Navy ROTC commanding officer at USF, officially retired Wednesday after completing 31 years of service with the with the Navy. A ceremony was held in the Lifsey House, where he was presented with Legion of Merit Award for his outstanding achievement.

At the service, he also received a certificate from the president of the United States, a certificate of appreciation from Gov. Jeb Bush, and a plaque from the NROTC unit at USF.

The Navy established the USF unit of the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps in 2002 and selected Dick to be the first professor of the naval science program. He had served as a professor of naval science at the University of South Carolina prior to his arrival at USF.

Dick joined the Navy in 1968 as a sailor and was selected to go to the Naval Academy Preparatory School, where he graduated in 1973.

In addition to his respected rank as Captain, his accomplishments include service as an aviator with the Navy and overseeing several squadrons. His awards include the Defense Joint Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medals and Navy Achievement Medals. Dick also holds a master’s degree in marine affairs from the University of Rhode Island and a master’s degree in national security affairs from the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.

Dick said his time at USF allowed him to appreciate the significance of traditions in the armed forces, and the ways in which those traditions help build bonds.

“One of the greatest things that I learned here was that we do build our traditions and, you know, we try to build them on our core values of honor, courage, commitment and excellence,” he said. “It gave us an opportunity to build something from ground zero and start our own traditions.”

After retirement, Dick hopes to continue teaching, he said.

“I like working with the young kids who are enthusiastic. I might look for something in the field of education, more than likely,” he said.

Lt. Hank Allen, an assistant professor of naval science, who worked under Dick, said the captain handled the groundwork and initial recruiting for the NROTC program at USF. He added that Dick brought in 20 midshipmen during his first semester at the university.

“He’s definitely a very likable guy,” Allen said. “He’s got a lot of experience, tells us a lot of sea stories and pretty much gives it to us straight on what we can expect when we’re out there in the fleet as department heads. And for the midshipmen, (he) gives them a very clear perspective on what their career path will be when they become naval officers and Marine Corps officers.”