Pictured left to right are VFW Post 6287 commander Pat Bar; Kaedynce and Kameron, LTC (R) Dave Dietz’s daughter and son; LTC (R) Dave Dietz; and VFW District 12 commander Heather Frank.

Local FishHawk resident and senior Army instructor at Lennard High School, LTC (R) Dave Dietz was recently celebrated on January 7 after receiving the awards for both VFW Post 6287 (Ruskin) JROTC Instructor of the Year and VFW District 12 (Hillsborough County) JROTC Instructor of the Year. Held at 12 Noon at the VFW Post 6287, LTC (R) Dietz expressed his honor at being able to accept such awards with both his daughter, Kaedynce, and son, Kameron, by his side.

“Outside being humbled for these awards, it’s also just as special to represent Lennard High School along with having my son and daughter share that moment with me,” said LTC (R) Dietz.

LTC (R) Dietz’s story begins with his 27-year-long service in the military where he began as a combat engineer. Transferring over to the intelligence community, he was then stationed at MacDill Air Force Base for six years before retiring from the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) on the counter-terrorism team in November 2020. Closely following his retirement, he began his instruction as a senior Army instructor at Sumner High School before transferring to Lennard High School, where he has been teaching for the past four months.

Among his numerous daily duties, running the Raiders Program for Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (JROTC) students remains one of his chief commitments. Meeting every Tuesday, Thursday and Friday before school starts, students involved complete physical tasks such as running 3 miles, cross-fit training and practicing basic Army fitness training. This is done in preparation for a Raider Competition, or ‘Raider,’ which is an athletic event held across Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties where LTC (R) Dietz’s cadets can compete against members from other schools.

“My Raiders get taught a lot of stuff about physical fitness, how to take care of your body and then how to compete at the next level,” said LTC (R) Dietz.

And while he has been involved with JROTC operations for only two years now, LTC (R) Dietz strives to leave a lasting impact on the kids involved in this program. JROTC is an organization entirely based around motivating young people to pursue pathways to becoming better citizens while remaining on track to graduate, granting them access to help and resources pertaining to higher education, as well as entry into the military. Citing it as one of the largest character development and citizenship programs in the world, LTC (R) Dietz makes it his mission to guide his 150 cadets on the right path.

“Once out of high school, life’s upon them, so we love to prepare them before they get out the door. That’s probably one of the bigger rewards,” said LTC (R) Dietz. “Seeing these kids leave high school and start getting a job, a trade and hopefully maybe into the military.”

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