- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2008

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (AP) | When Maj. Gen. Robert C. Dickerson was 18 years old, he wanted to be drafted by the Boston Red Sox. But it was 1969, and the Marine Corps drafted him instead.

Now 36 years later, he has retired from the Marines and stepped down from his post as head of East Coast bases. He still thinks about what could have been with the Red Sox, though there is no question that he compiled a hall of fame career in the Marines.

Gen. Dickerson was the first commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East. He handed over command last month to Maj. Gen. Carl B. Jensen during a ceremony. Marine Corps Installations East is made up of seven bases with a military and civilian population of more than 160,000 located in five states along the Eastern seaboard.

Gen. Dickerson said he plans to spend the next two months visiting with family and relaxing with his wife.

“We’re ready to kick back for a while,” he said. “It will be kind of nice to sleep past 5:30 in the a.m.”

In October, he will start work as a consultant teaching leadership at businesses and universities. He will also continue to work with wounded Marines.

Gen. Dickerson took command in 2005, and watched over bases and facilities in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. During his three years in command, he oversaw plans for a Wounded Warrior Complex, which will provide wounded Marines with medical care, rehabilitation and housing. He also spearheaded the construction of new housing for Marine families and partnered with the local community to keep and maintain the training ranges around the base.

The Marine Corps is in the middle of the largest troop increases since World War II. More than 70,000 people are expected to move to Marine Corps bases in southeastern North Carolina, including Camp Lejeune, as the Marine Corps expands to 220,000 troops in the next several years.

Gen. Dickerson said the community shouldn’t have to pay for the additional costs for schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure associated with the Marine Corps’ growth. He said the base is working with two task forces - in Raleigh, N.C., and Washington - to make sure there is federal money to offset the costs.

“We complicated the equation again by adding about 11,477 Marines and sailors,” Gen. Dickerson said. “I pay taxes in the local community, and I don’t mind doing that. You pay taxes for your freedoms, but I don’t want to continue to have my taxes raised.”

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