2016 Grand Marshal
Twenty-two year old First Lieutenant Kent B. Dover was a B-24 bomber pilot during World War II and was responsible for a crew of nine men.
Dover said, “On August 25, 1944 I flew my fifth strike on the Palau Islands. Ack-Ack from Japanese Zeros was accurate showering me with glass and shrapnel in the head and neck, just missing my spinal cord, for which I received the Purple Heart. One-eighth inch deeper and it would have proved fatal. I want to keep reiterating the fact that God has his arm around me.”
With 42 combat missions and nearly 500 combat hours to his credit, he was awarded the Purple Heart, the air medal and three oak leaf clusters, and his Asiatic-Pacific campaign ribbon bears eight battle stars, signifying participation in eight campaigns, including the Philippine Liberation. He also has two presidential unit citations and was nominated for the Silver Star. Besides his awards, Kent takes pride in his Japanese Samurai Sword and an oil painting of his B-24 painted by his brother Richard Dover.
Kent came home from the war in 1945 and married his sweetheart, Bessie Peck, who wrote letters to him every day while he was away, and this April they celebrated their 71st wedding anniversary. Kent and Bessie have four children, 18 grandchildren, and 35 great-grandchildren. In 2012, Kent and Bessie were awarded SUU honorary doctorate degrees for their service to their community and family.
Upon return to BAC from the war, Red, as he was called due to his flaming red hair, participated in every sport offered at BAC during that time, and in 2015 was inducted into the SUU Athletic Hall of Fame.
Kent calls himself the “campus kid” as he was raised just south of the Centrum and has spent his entire life within a block of the university. His grandfather, William Henry Dover, helped with the construction of Old Main in 1897; the level used by his grandfather was donated by Kent and is on display there.