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Veterans Day ’09: Dr. Dake served in Korea, Vietnam

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles that will run between now and Veterans Day, Nov. 11, about local veterans who were nominated as the San Marcos Veterans Day Parade grand marshal.

by PAT MURDOCK

Retired Air Force Col. Theodore Dake Jr. spent 31 years on active duty, serving in Korea, Vietnam and cold war conflicts.

But just because he retired from the U.S. Air Force does not mean that Dr. Dake stopped flying. In fact, the practicing San Marcos psychiatrist volunteers his time and his private plane to fly cancer patients to treatment centers as an Angel Flight volunteer.

Two letters of recommendation were submitted to nominate Dake for Veterans Day Parade grand marshal honors. Although he was not selected, the committee reviewing the 11 nominees placed him close to the top.

A native of Paris, Texas, Dake’s military career began at the age of 17 when he joined the U.S. Naval Reserve. In his junior year at the University of Oklahoma, he was drafted and joined the U.S. Air Force as a pilot trainee.

As his friend and nominator Marianne Moore points out, “He served as a distinguished pilot and physician, flying missions in sophisticated spy planes, training other pilots and sharing his medical skills with American and allied foreign troops. He remains the only person in the military to have achieved the tri-rating of Command Pilot, Master Parachutist and Chief Physician.”

Members of the Heritage Association of San Marcos, he and his wife Thea live in the Belvin Street Historic District. Their home has been on the Heritage Home Tour several times. They support numerous local non-profit organizations, including the Price Senior Center, the Women’s Center, Friends of the San Marcos Library and the Angel Flight organization, for which he has been volunteering for about 10 years. He also serves on the San Marcos Airport Commission.

In his nomination letter, San Marcos attorney Charles Soechting wrote, “I have known Ted for nearly 20 years. During that entire time, there has never been a moment, a second, a nanosecond that he wasn’t the most dedicated and patriotic American I’ve ever known. … Having served in the United States Navy, I know a few veterans. Ted is at the forefront of all the names I can think of… Simply stated, Ted’s devotion to this country is unflagging. His devotion and commitment to the United States and especially the United States Air Force, are unparalleled in this community. Ted does not wear his former service like some flashy medal, but he carries it in the way he conducts his business.”

During the Korean conflict in 1953, Dake flew 26 missions as an A1-6 Mosquito pilot. In 1964, he was awarded the Major General Malcolm C. Grow USAF Flight Surgeon of the Year Award. From 1966 to 1969, he was requested by the USAF Surgeon General to volunteer for the 1129th Special Activities Squadron which flew photo intelligence missions over North Vietnam in the world’s most sophisticated and secret spy plane, the A-12. He earned command pilot rating for 15 years as a pilot with 2,000 hours of flying time. He also earned master parachutist rating after completing 60 jumps including jumps into water, at night and into forests.

He was awarded the Chief Physician Badge while Hospital Commander of Bergstrom Air Force Base in Austin.