Samuel Thomas Dickens – Colonel, United States Air Force

Samuel Thomas “Sam” Dickens was born in Argentina on 6 October 1926 of American parents, Fred William Dickens and Grace Gesell Dickens.

Mr. Dickens served on the Faculty at the University of Tucuman, was cofounder of the Pan American games and coached two Argentine Olympic teams.

Circa 1945 Sam was handed a copy of West Point Today at the American Embassy in Buenos Aires. Two years later he showed up as an Army Sergeant with an Army appointment to West Point. A hard worker in the section rooms and an all?around athlete, Sam's great love, as a cadet, was diplomatic history.

On graduation Sam went in the Air Force and after flying school served in Korea with the 15th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron where he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal.

Sam married Marcella “Marcy” Fay Smith in London, England on January 26, 1957. They had met at Acapulco in 1955 on his return from Korea. Sam then served with the 20th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Shaw AFB in 1954, and with the 9th Air Force Tactical Air Command in 1955. 

He was a Flight Commander with the Royal Air Force Fighter Squadron No 263 in England from 1956 to 1958.

Returning to the States Sam was named Commander of a Midshipmen Company at Annapolis from 1958 to 1961. The Field Officers Course at the Air Command and Staff College followed in 1962, and then assignment to the 4510th Combat Crew Training Wing, Tactical Air Command from 1962 to 1964. The years 1965 and 1966 were spent as Assistant Air Attache in Madrid, Spain. 

Sam then was assigned to Viet Nam as Commanding Officer 616th Tactical Fighter Squadron from 1968 to 1969 and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross for “heroism and extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight.” He also earned eleven Air Medals.

On return from Nam Sam was assigned to Headquarters USAF from 1969 to 1970. Then followed attendance at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces resident course from 1970 to 1971 during which he also earned a Master of Science in Administration degree from George Washington University. On completion he was assigned as Deputy Commander for Operations, 401st Tactical Fighter Wing from 1972 to 1973.

He then returned to Spain and served as the Commander of the Torrejon Air Base in Spain from 1973 to 1974 where he also represented the Pentagon Air Staff on diplomatic base negotiations with the Spanish. Additional duties included service with the Joint US Mission Military Advisory Group, for which he was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal. Returning to the States Sam served in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel & Operations Headquarters, USAF from 1974 to 1979 for which he was awarded the Legion of Merit. Sam retired as a Colonel 1979.

Presently Sam Dickens is a consultant on national security affairs. He is also Chairman of the Council for the Defense of Freedom. He serves Virginia on the Board of Regents of the James Monroe Law Office and Memorial Library. He is a frequent commentator and participant in seminars and on radio and television, speaking on national security issues for all the major networks in Spanish and English.

Sam and his wife Marcy made their home in Falls Church, Virginia. They had two sons; David Thomas Dickens, is with an international patent company; Samuel T. Dickens, Jr. maintains and coordinates all the computer activities for Prison Fellowships and is married to the former Jill Karn; and one daughter, Pamela Grace Sellars who works on national security affairs for Senator Dan Coats of Indiana. There are five grandchildren; Sophia Gesell Sellars, Samuel Thomas Dickens III, Henry Duncan Sellars, Brandon Duke Dickens and Gavin Wallace Sellars. 

(The writer roomed with Sam at West Point all four years.)

Samuel T. Dickens, 80, a retired Air Force Colonel who became an authority on national security policy, died December 29, 2006, at his daughter's home in Oakton. He had prostate cancer.

Colonel Dickens, a Falls Church resident, graduated in 1951 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, and became an Air Force pilot.

He flew 12 combat missions in Korea and later flew top-secret reconnaissance missions over the Soviet Union. Decades afterward, he urged the declassification of secret missions over the Soviet Union, China and North Korea and helped to organize a symposium in Washington in 2002 about the flights.

During the Vietnam War, he commanded a tactical fighter squadron and flew 225 combat missions.

He later served as base commander of Torrejon Air Base in Spain, coordinator of U.S.-Spanish negotiations on the U.S. military presence in Spain and chief of plans and policy for the Western Hemisphere on the Pentagon's Air Staff.

After his military retirement in 1979, Colonel Dickens spent most of the 1980s as director of inter-American affairs at the American Security Council Foundation, a pro-military organization. He was an outspoken supporter of U.S. military involvement in Central America, noting its strategic importance to U.S. interests. He was an adviser to the Kissinger commission on Central America in 1984.

Samuel Thomas Dickens was born in Buenos Aires, where his father was a YMCA official. During his Air Force career, he received a master's degree in administration from George Washington University in 1971 and also attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair.

He was secretary of the James Monroe Memorial Foundation and was on the board of the James Monroe Museum and Memorial Library in Fredericksburg. He was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.

His military decorations included the Legion of Merit, two awards of the Distinguished Flying Cross and 12 awards of the Air Medal.

Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Marcella Smith Dickens of Falls Church; three children, David T. Dickens of Arlington, Samuel T. Dickens Jr. of Oviedo, Florida, and Pamela Sellars of Oakton; a sister; and eight grandchildren.


On Friday, December 29, 2006 at his daughter's residence in Oakton, Virignia. Beloved husband of Marcella S. Dickens. He is survived by two sons; a daughter; eight grandchildren; many family members and friends.

Service will be held at Fort Myers Chapel followed by burial at Arlington National Cemetery on February 5, 2007 at 1 p.m.

  • DATE OF BIRTH: 10/06/1926
  • DATE OF DEATH: 12/29/2006

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