NO. 17826 • 2 November 1926 – 13 April 1952
Died 13 April 1952 (Air Accident) in Korea, aged 25 years.
"THE CLASS OF 1950 will not soon forget 'the Redhead from Virginia.’" - These words from the 1950 HOWITZER summed up how Jack Dille's classmates felt about him. Jack was killed in 1952, but he is not forgotten nor will he be forgotten by his many friends. Jack's character and personality were as distinctive as his bright red hair that seemed to be symbolic of his spirit, warmth , individuality, humor, and courage.
Jack was born in Wheeling, West Virginia on 2 November 1926. Shortly afterwards his family moved to Roanoke, Virginia, which was to be Jack's hometown. There at Jefferson Senior High School he became well known as a football and basketball star. After he was graduated in June, 1944, "the Redhead" entered Virginia Military Institute where he became recognized immediately as one of the most popular members of his class. After completing his "Rat' year at VMI, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps, underwent basic training, and later was assigned to the USMA Preparatory School at Amherst College. Jack entered West Point in July, 1946, and his four years there were marked by the many friends who found happiness in his companionship.
Jack went on to win his pilot’s wings in the U.S. Air Force. After several stateside assignments be was assigned to the 8th Fighter-Bomber Group in Korea where he was awarded the Air Medal. His citation read, in part: "In the course of these operations Lieutenant Dille engaged in strafing and dive bombing from dangerousy low altitudes, destroying and damaging enemy installations and equipment, thus bringing great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force."
On Easter morning, 13 April 1952, Jack met his death in an aircraft accident while en route from Korea to Japan. It was a great loss to his family and his many friends.
Jack shared his world with the one and only girl in his life, Barbara Minter. Jack and Bobbie went steady at Jefferson Senior High School in Roanoke and throughout his years at VMI and West Point, they looked forward to to the day when they would be married. To no one's surprise they were married on graduation day in the Cadet Chapel. Jack and Bobbie have a fine son, John III, who was born after Jack left for Korea. Jack, unfortunately, never saw his son.
AthItetics were an important part of Jack's life. He was outstanding in football and basketball at Jefferson High School and at VMI. Jack was comparatively small for football, however, and he did not personally make any headlines at West Point. In spite of his size, he did, through his earnest and capable performance on the practice field, contribute to the success of the Army team. Jack always gave his best on the athletic field and could always be counted on to do his job when the going was tough.
No, "The Class of 1950 will not soon forget the Redhead from Virginia." We will always cherish his charm and sincere friendship. Jack was always completely forthright and honest with everyone, for he despised hypocrisy and pretense. His cheerful approach to the rigors of West Point helped many of his classmates to keep their perspective. Jack never lost his sense of humor, and he enjoyed a joke on himself most of all. His carefree attitude in many ways disguised Jack's serious-minded purposefulness. In his assigned tasks as in athletics, he didn't make headlines, but he always had the courage and determination to get the job done.
Jack was religious in his own inconspicuous way, and his major contribution to the world was the happiness be gave to others. Sports Editor Bob McLelland in his column in the Roanoke World-News eulogized Jack with these words: "Jack got his 'call' on Easter morning. I like to think that there was something more than chance in the fact that he left this world on the same day that Our Savior arose. It is not hard - Jack was that kind of boy and man."
- A Friend