2015 Achievement Awards
MASTER SERGEANT PHYLLIS G. DICKERSON
Senior Master Sergeant
Dickerson, who is retiring in 2015, is one of the instructors in
Surrattsville’s multi-award winning Air Force Junior Reserve
Officer Training Corps program. Affectionately known as “Sgt.
D” and “the Mother of the AFJROTC unit,” she serves
as a mentor and leader of the outstanding students in the program,
and is cited by many as a primary reason for the program’s many
successes. SMSgt Dickerson also is very active as a volunteer at her
church and in the community
Dickerson retired from active duty in the Air Force in 1994 to take
her instructor position at Surrattsville, and immediately began to
work with Col. Umstead to build the AFJROTC program into one of the
top programs of its kind in the country.
many accomplishments began early in life. She attended Essex High
School in Virginia and excelled across the entire spectrum of school
activities. She was very active in the school Choir, Future Business
Leaders of America, Future Homemakers of America, Cheerleaders, and a
four-year letterman on the Track and Field Team. Her exceptional
athletic performance earned her a position on the Virginia All-State
Track and Field team for four consecutive years.
SMSgt Dickerson retired from active duty in the Air Force in 1994 to take her instructor position at Surrattsville, and immediately began to work with Col. Umstead to build the AFJROTC program into one of the top programs of its kind in the country.
SMSgt Dickerson’s many accomplishments began early in life. She attended Essex High School in Virginia and excelled across the entire spectrum of school activities. She was very active in the school Choir, Future Business Leaders of America, Future Homemakers of America, Cheerleaders, and a four-year letterman on the Track and Field Team. Her exceptional athletic performance earned her a position on the Virginia All-State Track and Field team for four consecutive years.
After graduating from high school in June 1973, SMSgt Dickerson enlisted in the Air Force. Her Air Force assignments included Edwards AFB, CA where she was involve with the test program for several new military weapon systems, Okinawa, Japan where she became an inspector of several different aircraft assigned to her, Altus, Oklahoma where she continued her career as an inspector, and Incerlik, Turkey where she was a member of the transient maintenance unit which serviced all tanker, cargo, and fighter aircraft in that region. Next, SMSgt Dickerson was assigned to Andrews AFB where she worked in the Transient Maintenance Branch to support all incoming and outgoing aircraft traffic in support of the White House and the Pentagon. She was later assigned as Crew Chief of the Vice President's aircraft which on many occasions backed-up the President of the United States. Her next assignment was to Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England, where she held the role as Production Superintendent of flightline maintenance. Sergeant Dickerson was directly involved in Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield, and Provide Comfort. In July 1993, SMSgt Dickerson returned to Andrews to serve as Superintendent of the Transient Maintenance Section, her last active duty posting before coming to Surrattsville.
SMSgt Dickerson’s military decorations include the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with one bronze oak leaf cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal with two bronze oak leaf clusters, and the Air Force Good Conduct Medal with one silver oak leaf cluster and one bronze oak leaf cluster. And, perhaps most impressively, she was named AFJROTC Instructor of the Year in 1996-1997!
COL. DARYL UMSTEAD
LT. Lieutenant Colonel Umstead has been the Senior Aerospace Science Instructor in Surrattsville’s multi-award winning Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps since August 1997. In this role, he is responsible for the management and administration of the program in accordance with Department of Defense, Air Force and AFJROTC guidance. Lt. Col. Umstead is widely recognized as a primary force behind the absolutely extraordinary successes of the School’s AFJROTC program.
Lt. Col. Umstead graduated from Hillside High School in North Carolina and earned a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Industrial Technology from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. He next obtained a Master’s of Arts degree in Human Resources Management from Pepperdine University. He was commissioned a Second Lieutenant through AFROTC and attended the Communications Electronics Maintenance Officers Course at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi. His duties included communications, logistics and educational assignments in South Carolina, the Philippines, Virginia, Illinois, California, Washington, DC, Naples, Italy and back to DC where he served as a Professor of Aerospace Studies at Howard University. He retired from active duty on the ceremonial lawn at Bolling Air Force Base in 1997 to begin his tenure at Surrattsville.
Lt. Col. Umstead’s military awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal with four oak leaf clusters, and the Air Force Commendation Medal. Lt. Col. Umstead also has been a great supporter of the Foundation since its establishment, even serving on the Foundation Board for a number of years.
SURRATTSVILLE’S AFJROTC PROGRAM. In the eyes of many, no two individuals have been more instrumental in the extraordinary successes of the School’s AFJROTC program than Lt. Col. Umstead and Senior Master Sergeant Dickerson. The School’s AFJROTC was established with the initial unique objective of establishing a 9th grade (and beyond) transitional program that includes mentoring, guidance, career assessment, interest inventories, test-taking skills, study skills, portfolio development, and post-secondary school opportunities exploration
The program also stresses reading, writing and vocabulary development to prepare cadets for the PSAT and SAT tests, and has included post-test follow-up and AFJROTC-led prep classes (at one time serving 500 students with six instructors). The program also supports students in their efforts to complete their required community service hours.
Each Fall, the program provides off-site training to cadets in uniform wear, basic customs and courtesy, physical fitness awareness and drill movements. As a result of this intensive preparation, the Surrattsville program continually places first in competitions in Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Virginia. And the program even provides waltz lessons in preparation for the annual military ball!
Despite having its instructor total cut from six to four, the program continued to earn the very prestigious AFJROTC Honor Unit Status. An alumni program brings Surrattsville grads back to the School to inform cadets about life after high school and to emphasize the importance of high school preparatory work. For 15 years, the program sponsored Clinton’s great community parade. The program’s Kitty Hawk Honors group spearheads tutoring and mentoring efforts which keep the programs academic goals alive and which has resulted in many years of cadets qualifying as Surrattsville’s valedictorians and salutatorians.
Each year, the program sponsors “Curriculum in Action” field trips to places like the White House and Andrews AFB. The program stresses resume development through summer leadership programs like Boys’ and Girls’ State and the program’s own Cadet Officer Leadership Program
Surrattsville’s AFJROTC Unit MD-942 was named an AFJROTC Outstanding Unit in 2000, Distinguished Unit in 2012, and Distinguished Unit with Merit in 2013. It has always been committed to being “the best of the best,” and a recent Air Force inspector noted that the Surrattsville unit is “one of the nation’s premier units, serving as a model for other units to follow.”
The achievements and successes of these great kids under the tutelage of SMSgt. Dickerson and Lt. Col. Umstead cannot be overstated. Although these two exemplary educators will be sorely missed after their retirement, the foundation they have built over the decades will certainly benefit Surrattsville’s AFJROTC cadets for years to come. Congratulations and best wishes to these outstanding role models, instructors and mentors!