A Carolina Dad
,I don't care ifyou major in basket weaving, you'll
get a college diploma," he preached to his five
sons. Though he did not see them graduate from
high school or college, he was a Carolina Dad.
When he was born, he had two teenage sisters, each
of whom later earned master's degrees, and as he
entered high school, his mother decided that .';'\
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she would attend that same high school and
graduate with him.
After briefly attending the University of
Michigan, he fibbed about his age, joined the
Army and was stationed at Fort Lewis, Wash.,
where he met a woman who had moved to
Seattle to work for Boeing. One everung, he
asked her,"How would you like to spend the
rest of your life with me?" He was 19 and she
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was 21 when they were married.
He entered the University of Washington and, to
become an Army officer, he enrolled in ROTC. Two
sons were born there, and their third arrived after he
was shipped to Korea, where he was wounded in
action. He was delighted to be assigned to Fort Ben-
ning, Ga., where he attended Ranger School and Jump
School. The two youngest sons were born at Fort Ben-
ning; the five boys shared a bedroom.
He wanted his sons to understand the importance of
work. By the time they entered school, they each were
working - collecting newspapers and bottles, selling
holiday cards, and making and selling pot holders. Later
they pumped gas, cut lawns and worked construction.
After four years at Fort Benning, he became a com-
pany corrunander with the 82nd Airborne Division at
Fort Bragg, and he remained a company commander
when his unit moved to Mainz, Germany. As a child, he
had not been permitted to participate in organized
sports, but in Mainz his older sons played Little League
football and baseball. An amateur military historian, he
delighted in piling the family into their ' 57 Ford Ranch
Wagon to travel across Western Europe, often stopping
at World War I and World War II sites.
When, two jumps shy of becoming a master para-
chutist, he broke his leg, he relinquished his jump slot;
in a few months, he received news that he was to
attend the Command and General Staff College in Fort
It was with great enthusiasm that he received news
that he would return to Fort Bragg into ajump slot
with the 18th Airborne Corps, where he not only
became a master parachutist but achieved 100 jumps.
He worked on the Cuban missile crisis and developed
plans for U.S. involvement in the Dominican Republic,
but despite the late hours, he made a priority for the
family dinner. He emphasized to his sons the impor-
tance of sticking together, helping each other and
always respecting their mother.
He enjoyed books, travel, sports, music, dancing and
card games. He was an independent thinker, and he
particularly enjoyed his time with his troops. He prac-
ticed and taught that there was "right" and "wrong." He
demanded honesty and insisted that his sons always do
So while he did not attend any of the high school
or college graduation ceremonies for his sons (four of
whom graduated from UNC ), he inspired the expecta-
tion that led to their degrees.
He brought ills fanUIy to Chapel Hill to see the
"Star of Bethlehem" at the Morehead Planetarium. He
took them to see
The Lost Co
and the Wright
Brothers memorial, not knowing that his sons would
become North Carolinians.
That was my Dad. And 40 years ago, on June 1,
1965, his smail unit was caught in an ambush and,
despite Dad's heroic efforts, he was shot and killed near
Pleiku, South Vietnanl. He couldn't attend those high
school or college graduations, or participate in our
weddings, or enjoy his five grandsons (two of whom are
UNC alumni with a third enrolled at Carolina) and
granddaughter, or help his sons with career decisions.
He could not grow old with our mother. But he pro-
foundly shaped our lives by the values he instilled and
the exanlple he set. And while he didn't live to know
or enjoy it, he was a very special Carolina Dad.
Yours at Carolina,
Douglas S. Dibbert ' 70
in this issue
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