In 1970, Louisville, Kentucky native Dr. Kenneth D. Dunn secured a nomination to attend the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Dr. Dunn’s father had already fought in Korea and he wanted to follow in his dad’s footsteps. He found the humidity and rigorous academic standards demanding, but Dunn enjoyed his time there, including serving as a defensive back for the Navy Midshipmen. After graduating in 1974, Dr. Dunn trained to become an artillery officer in the U.S. Marine Corps. Rising through the ranks, Dunn was eventually put in command of 5th Battalion, 10th Marines operating out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina in 1993 and the Weapons and Training Battalion out of Quantico, Virginia.
Over the course of his long and distinguished career, Dr. Dunn became a husband and father. In these new roles, he faced major challenges, his three children and the dozens of Marines under his command required him to exercise discipline and show strong leadership. Dr. Dunn said that his training prepared him for those challenges because it taught him that life does not simply plateau at one level of difficulty just because we want it to. Many of the experiences that shaped his outlook on life were detailed in his recently published book “Camp Lejeune Command: Commander’s Notes 1992-1995.”
When asked to explain what the Marine Corps has to offer young people, Dr. Dunn pointed to the many educational and service to Country opportunities it provides to those who join. And how many young people understand that one of the best ways to achieve economic stability is through a college education. The Marine Corps not only teaches people the kind of focus that will empower them throughout the rest of their lives, but it also offers officers, and those who enlist, money for college and careers that can sustain them for a lifetime.
After serving his country for 30 years, Dr. Dunn retired from the Corps in 2004 and pursued his doctorate in education. This allowed him to follow his passion for teaching, and he now serves as an adjunct professor at the College of Distance Education and Training, Marine Corps University. As a college educator, Dr. Dunn still roots for the Navy Midshipmen, and because of his strong ties to Maryland, he will always have a soft spot in his heart for the Baltimore Ravens.
Reflecting on the many life lessons he received from his time as a Marine, Dr. Dunn related the story of how important it was for him to be allowed to join a recreational football team as a 12-year-old. The first time he felt what it was like to be part of something greater than himself, was when he was playing football. He now views his time in the Corps as an extension of that formative experience because being in the Marines is all about selfless service and pursuing goals that no one individual can achieve by themselves. “My motivation as a young man, pretty much as a high school student, as a college student, as a junior officer, and then finally as a senior officer, has pretty much remained the same; doing the very best I can with what God has given me,” said Dunn.
Mario McKellop is a freelance writer who has covered the pop culture beat since 2010.