Lt. Col. John R. Dickens was born an identical twin and grew up on a dairy farm outside of Burdett, New York. He graduated from Odessa-Montour Central School and received a Bachelor of Arts from Ithaca College, where he ran cross-country and track. Dickens later completed his master’s degree in education at State University of New York, Oswego.
He enlisted in the Army in September 1996 as a personnel administration specialist. His initial assignment was in the 1/6 ADA at Fort Bliss, Texas. Dickens' next assignment was as the personnel services NCO for the 1-4 IN Regt at the Combat Maneuver Training Center, Hohenfels, Germany. Upon commissioning through Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and attending the Adjutant General Officer Basic Course, his initial officer assignment was as executive officer at the USA Replacement Center, Fort Carson, Colorado. He next served as XO for Delta Detachment, 502d Personnel Support Battalion, deploying in support of the 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment during Operation Iraqi Freedom I and II in 2003 to Ramadi and Al Asad Airbase, Iraq.
From 2004 until 2006, Dickens served in the U.S. Army Reserve as a battalion S4 and S1 for the 3/385th IN, 1st BDE, 98th DIV (IT) in Edison, New Jersey. In June 2006, Dickens volunteered for recall to active duty and was assigned to the 4th BCT, 82d ABN DIV. He served as Asst. BDE S1/Strength Manager and deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom VIII. Mid-deployment, Dickens served as BN S1 for the 1-508th Parachute Infantry Regiment as part of the Theater Tactical Force for NATO ISAF. Upon return, he attended Airborne School, Adjutant General Captains Career Course and the Recruiting Company Commander’s Course. He commanded the Bear Mountain Company, Albany Battalion, 1st Brigade, United States Army Recruiting Command, from July 2009 until June 2011. Dickens then attended ILE in residence at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and upon graduating requested assignment to Fort Drum, New York, arriving in July 2012, where he began his assignment as the 3D BCT S1. He deployed to OEF IV-XV with Task Force Spartan at FOB Lightning, Gardez, Afghanistan. Upon return, he assisted in the inactivation of the brigade and later served as the 10th Mountain Division Deputy G1. In 2016, Dickens was selected to serve as the AG Majors’ Assignment Officer in the OPM Directorate at Human Resources Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky. In 2018, he was assigned to the Enlisted Personnel Management Directorate as a team chief in the Enlisted Readiness Division.
Dickens’ military education includes Basic Combat Training, Advanced Individual Training, Primary Leadership Development Course, Officer Candidate School, Adjutant General Corps Officer Basic Course, Unit Movement Officer’s Course, Airborne School, AG Captain’s Career Course, Recruiting Company Commander’s Course, and Command and General Staff College.
Dickens’ decorations and awards include the Bronze Star Medal (1 OLC), Meritorious Service Medal (2 OLC), Army Commendation Medal (5 OLC), Army Achievement Medal (6 OLC), Valorous Unit Award, Meritorious Unit Citation (1 OLC), Army Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal (2 stars), Iraqi Campaign Medal (2 stars), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon (2), NATO Medal-Afghanistan, Combat Action Badge, Parachutist Badge and Recruiter Badge.
Dickens is married to the former Wendy S. Pickard of Utica, New York. They have three children, Cayley, Connor, and Carter.