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Denny Gillem

LTC, US Army (Ret.)

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frontlines of freedom host denny gillemDenny’s Biography
Denny Gillem graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in June 1964 and was commissioned in the infantry. After military schooling he was assigned to Fort Carson, Colorado Springs, CO, where he served with the 5th Infantry Division  and volunteered for duty in Vietnam.

He served in combat with the First Infantry Division for a year and then assumed command of an airborne rifle company of the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, KY. He first visited Michigan when his company deployed to the Detroit Riots in 1967. Shortly thereafter, his division deployed to Vietnam in time for the fighting during Tet 1968. As a consequence of these two combat tours Denny received the Combat Infantryman’s Badge and 7 US awards for valor.

Denny was selected for early promotion to major and sent to earn his masters degree in political science at the University of Texas at El Paso. He subsequently served with the ROTC unit at Stanford University where he earned another MA (in Education) and helped close the ROTC unit. After serving with a mechanized infantry battalion in Germany, Denny returned to the US to be a war planner for Europe and the Middle East at US Readiness Command in Florida.

He served as the head of the Army ROTC unit at the University of Tampa and then was transferred to serve as an Army Advisor to the Michigan National Guard. Denny and Marilyn fell in love with western Michigan and decided to retire from the Army and settle there.

Since leaving the Army, Denny has worked in sales, leadership, consulting, and academic positions in Michigan. He taught American Government at Grand Rapids Community College and political science and management for the University of Phoenix. He was the founding chair of the 1776 Society of Veterans, a political action committee. He has served in senior positions in state & national political campaigns and has run for office locally. Denny is the past-chair of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber’s Business Networking Committee.

Denny enjoys reading, spending time with family and politics.

Military highlights

Colonel Denny Gillem graduated from West Point in 1964 and served in the infantry for 22 years. Highlights of his career include:

  • 1965-66 First Infantry Division in Vietnam; rifle platoon leader and aide-de-campe
  • 1967-68 101st Airborne Division in US and Vietnam. Rifle company commander and assistant G3 operations officer.
  • 1974-77 First Infantry Division in Germany; mechanized infantry battalion XO.
  • 1977-81 US Readiness Command – Mideast war planner
  • 1981-84 University of Tampa – Professor of Military Science
  • 1984-86 Army Advisor, Michigan Army National Guard

denny gillem military ribbons

Awards Received

  • Silver Star (valor)
  • Distinguished Flying Cross (valor)
  • Soldiers Medal (Heroism not involving contact with the enemy)
  • Bronze Star (3 awards for heroism; 2 awards for meritorious service)
  • Purple Heart (2 awards)
  • Army Commendation Medal (1 award for heroism; one award for meritorious service)
  • Combat Infantryman’s Badge
  • Expert Infantryman’s Badge
  • Parachutist Wings
  • Ranger Tab

Academic Achievements

  • US Military Academy, BS (engineering)
  • U of Texas at El Paso, MA in Political Science
  • Stanford University, MA in Education (administration)
  • Coursework towards Master of Divinity, Cornerstone University
  • Coursework towards PhD in higher education leadership, Western Michigan University

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