Michael Gold, Founder
HISTORIC CITY NEWS
St Augustine, FL
This weekend, my high school graduating class celebrated our 50th-year reunion with a Yellow Jackets football game. We stormed past Palatka, to complete a perfect regular season. We also enjoyed a dinner at the St Augustine Shrine Club and a potluck lunch Sunday at Faver Dykes State Park.
As I reflect upon my senior year, a multitude of emotions swirl within me, especially the intensity of turning 18 during a period when the mandatory draft cast a shadow of apprehension over every guy at graduation. It was a time that tested our mettle.
Although I was already accepted in college, keeping me unlikely to be called up, eight years earlier, my brother, Dr James H “Jay” Dixon, Lt Colonel (Retd), was doing everything he possibly could, over our father’s objection, to drop out of school and get into the United States Army.
Although I am admittedly biased, I stand in awe of Jay’s accomplishments every day. Jay survived the Vietnam war, only to die of cancer after returning to Virginia. He went home to the Lord on January 20, 2012, in Gate City. He was 71 years old.
He made his mark on the lives of unknown thousands of cadets and soldiers that followed his mission to defend our nation — at home and abroad. The Dixon bloodline is replete with the names of other men and women who are also veterans of service to our country.
The Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association, of which he was a member, shared details from an obituary that gives you a taste of just how inspirational my brother was.
It reads, in part, that he was the son of the late Marjorie L (Bond) and James Howard Dixon, born on May 25, 1940. Dixon led an extraordinary life. He was born and raised in Nickelsville, VA where his father operated the Bush Mill. It had been in the family for three generations. As a child, he worked around the mill loading flour sacks and securing them with Miller’s knots.
When he was 18, Dixon dropped out of Lynn View High School and joined the Army. At the time, he said “school didn’t interest me”. Such a statement is hard to believe today from a man who went on to earn his GED, an engineering degree and master’s degree in political science from Auburn University, as well as a PhD in international relations and quantitative methods from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Starting with basic training at Fort Jackson in Columbia, South Carolina in 1958, Dixon worked his way up the military ladder, retiring after 23 years of service and having ascended to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, Flight Class 64-2W.
During his military career, Jay served in the 44th Construction Battalion in Korea, was a member and instructor for Special Forces, and a trained helicopter pilot who flew missions as a warrant officer in Vietnam. He served as a Green Beret instructor at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, as well as a faculty member at the United States Military Academy in West Point and the National War College in Washington, D.C.
Jay’s tour of service in the U.S. Army in Vietnam:
- A/501 AVN in 1965
- 273 HHC in 1967-68
- HHC/222 AVN in 1968
- 12 AVN GP in 1968
His “call signs” in Vietnam were;
He received numerous awards including:
- Bronze Star
- Meritorious Service medals (2)
- Air Medals (7)
- Vietnam Service Medal
- Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
- Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm
- Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal
- Parachutist Badge
- Senior Army Aviator Badge with a Ranger Tab
After a successful career in the military, Jay served as a consultant to civil and government defense agencies, as a military strategist and information systems designer. He spent several years working with “special access programs” for national defense.
While working in Washington, D.C., in 1993, my brother met and married Carol Anderson Walcoff.
The new couple moved back to Gate City, VA. They formed a local 501(c)3, charitable organization — Southwest Virginia Community Foundation.
“The most enjoyable time of my life has been spent here in Southwest Virginia,” Dixon was quoted in his typical, humble way. “It has been a joy.”
The Foundation worked on several Southwest Virginia projects, including:
- renovation of the Bush Mill, Nicklesville Va
- Gate City Performing Arts Center
- Clinch Mountain Arts & Crafts
- Clinch Mountain MusicFest
Before his death, Jay also published a novel, his sixth book, “The Secret War,” that draws heavily upon his experiences in Southeast Asia.
Anyone who knows me knows I couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket, however, Jay was an accomplished musician, among all his other talents. Are you starting to understand why I hold him is such high esteem?
Alan T. Ellison provided a lot of additional information about my brother, LTC James H Dixon, from the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association obituary.