Frederick Rodgers Dent III...fighter pilot.
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Colonel, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), died Jan. 1, 2014.
Born at Kelly Field, San Antonio, Texas, April 3, 1934, the son of Maj. Gen. Frederick Rodgers Dent Jr., and Corra Lynn Dent, both deceased. He was also preceded in death by his sister, Lynn Dent Boykin. He is survived by his beloved wife of 56 years, Marion; son, Rod (Diane) Dent; daughter, Daphne (Lee) Sowell; grandchildren, Madeline and Erick; and brother, David (Lisa) Dent.
As an Air Force brat, Fred spent his early years at Wright Patterson Air Force Base before enrolling at Phillips Academy in Andover Massachusetts.
He was accepted at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., in 1952 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force in 1956. His first assignment was flying F-100s at Kadina Air Force Base in the 16th TFS, 18th TFW. He then returned to the University of Texas for his Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. The new engineer was assigned in 1963 to Eglin Air Force Base developing and testing weapon systems.
In 1965, Fred was chosen to attend the Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base and remained at the school as an academic and flight instructor. While there he was the project pilot on the rocket powered NF-104 aircraft and variable stability trainer NF-106. In 1969, Fred returned to the F-100 as a flight commander and assistant Ops officer in the 308th TFS, Republic of Vietnam. While here, he completed over 350 combat hours.
After returning from Vietnam, Fred attended the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, earning an MBA from Auburn University. His next assignment was to the Pentagon to develop flight programs for the F-15, and YF-16 and YF-17 prototype test programs. In 1974, Fred became a charter member of AFTEC where he managed the F-16 IOT&E program in Albuquerque, N.M. His final assignment was the director of Avionics at Eglin Air Force Base until 1980.
Col. Dent would eventually log more than 3,587 flight hours in 36 different aircraft. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Medal with 12 oak leaf clusters and the Air Force Commendation medal.
Following his Air Force career, Fred established a waterfront oyster bar (The Oar House), continued work in the defense industry with DOP in Shalimar and General Dynamics as an IOT&E program manager in Taiwan. Fred returned to his beloved Poquito Bayou to continue as an instructor for Embry Riddle Aeronautical University.
An avid hunter, fisherman and 'scratch' golfer...
Fred always led with his sense of humor and a smile.
A best friend to everyone he ever met.
A true officer and a gentleman….
A memorial in Fred's honor will be held at the Fort Walton Beach Yacht Club on Jan. 16, from 5 to 7 p.m. In the summer, Fred will be returned to West Point to be buried next to his father.
Expressions of love and sympathy may be viewed online at www.emeraldcoastfuneralhome.com.
Emerald Coast Funeral Home
113 Racetrack Rd NE
Fort Walton Beach, FL 32547
Published Online in Northwest Florida Daily News on Jan. 9, 2014