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Pete Dawkins

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Pete Dawkins
Man in West Point Cadet uniform
Dawkins c. 1983
Personal details
Born (1938-03-08) March 8, 1938 (age 86)
Royal Oak, Michigan, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Judi Wright
(m. 1962; died 2017)
(m. 2019)
EducationCranbrook School
United States Military Academy (BSc)
Brasenose College, Oxford (BA)
Princeton University (MPA, PhD)
WebsiteOfficial website
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Army
Years of service1962–1983
Rank Brigadier General
Battles/warsVietnam War
AwardsBronze Star (2)
College football career
Dawkins c. 1959
No. 24
Personal information
Height6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight210 lb (95 kg)
Career history
CollegeArmy (1956–1958)
High schoolCranbrook
(Bloomfield Hills, Michigan)
Career highlights and awards
College Football Hall of Fame (1975)

Peter Miller Dawkins (born March 8, 1938) is an American business executive and former college football player, hockey player, military officer, and political candidate. Dawkins attended the United States Military Academy, where he played as a halfback for the Army Cadets football team from 1956 to 1958. As a senior in 1958 he won the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award, and was named as a consensus All-America. After graduating from the Military Academy in 1959, he studied at the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Dawkins served as an officer in the United States Army until he retired in 1983 with the rank of brigadier general. He received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement presented by Awards Council member and Supreme Allied Commander Europe, General Bernard W. Rogers, USA in 1983.[1][2] He was a Republican candidate for United States Senate in 1988. Dawkins has held executive positions with Lehman Brothers, Bain & Company, Primerica, and Citigroup.

He is the only person in history to have held the titles of Brigade Commander, Football Team Captain, Class President, Star Man (top 5% of the class), Heisman Trophy winner, and Rhodes Scholar. The Thayer Hotel referred to him as the most decorated cadet in the history of the United States Military Academy.[3]

Following Johnny Lujack's death on July 25, 2023, Dawkins is the oldest surviving winner of the Heisman Trophy. He is the lone survivor among the first 27 recipients (1935–1961).

Early life, education and athletic career[edit]

Dawkins with Army in 1958

At age 11, Dawkins was successfully treated for polio[4] with aggressive physical therapy. After earning a scholarship, Dawkins entered Cranbrook School in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. There he was an all-league quarterback, and captain of the baseball team. He graduated from Cranbrook in 1955.

Accepted by Yale University, Dawkins chose instead to attend the United States Military Academy at West Point. He earned high honors, serving as First Captain, president of his class, captain of the football team, and a "Star Man" in the top five percent of his class academically. A cadet is considered outstanding if he attains one of these positions. Dawkins was the only cadet in history to hold all four at once. He was featured in Life Magazine and Reader's Digest. Even before his graduation, many predicted he would make general and perhaps even be Army Chief of Staff. Dawkins began his playing career at West Point under head football coach Earl Blaik as a fourth string quarterback before being cut from the position.[5] Later playing as a halfback during his junior and senior season, Dawkins saw great success and eventually won the Heisman Trophy and the Maxwell Award and was a consensus All-America selection in 1958. Dawkins was also an assistant captain for the hockey team. At Oxford, he won three Blues in rugby union and is credited with popularizing the overarm throw (originally called the "Yankee torpedo pass") into the lineout.[6]

West Point yearbook portrait

Dawkins graduated with a BSc from the Military Academy in 1959 with a very high class standing, and was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship.[7] He earned a BA at Brasenose College, Oxford in 1962[7] in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (promoted to an MA in 1968, per tradition) and later earned a Master of Public Affairs in 1970 and a PhD in 1977 from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University with the dissertation The United States Army and the "Other" War in Vietnam: A Study of the Complexity of Implementing Organizational Change.[8]

Military career[edit]

CPT Pete Dawkins in Vietnam, March 1966

After being commissioned from the academy and completing his tenure as a Rhodes Scholar, Dawkins finished Infantry School and Ranger School before being posted for duty in the 82nd Airborne Division. He received two Bronze Stars for Valor for his service in Vietnam and held commands in the 7th Infantry Division and 101st Airborne. From 1971 to 1972, Dawkins, while a lieutenant colonel, was the commander of the 1st Battalion 23rd Infantry, 2nd Infantry Division, Camp Hovey, Korea. In addition to being an instructor at the academy, he was a White House Fellow in the 1973–74 class. During that time, he was chosen to work on a task force, charged with changing the U.S. Army into an all-volunteer force. During the mid-1970s Colonel Dawkins was brigade commander of the 3rd ( "Golden Brigade") of the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina that included the 1st and 2nd 505th and 1/508th battalions. In the late 1970s he was 3rd Brigade Commander (War Eagle Brigade, which included the 1/503, 2/503, and 3/187 Infantry Battalions) of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) at Fort Campbell with the rank of colonel. After serving as the Brigade Commander he became the Chief of Staff for the 101st Airborne Division and was subsequently promoted to brigadier general. In 1966 Dawkins appeared in uniform on the cover of Life Magazine[9] and participated in a segment of the U.S. Army "Big Picture" film series, "A Nation Builds Under Fire."[10] This was a short documentary reviewing United States progress in South Vietnam, narrated by actor John Wayne.

Business career[edit]

At the conclusion of his 24-year career in the Army, Dawkins retired with the rank of brigadier general in 1983. Following his retirement from the Army, Dawkins took up a position as a partner in the Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers,[11] later becoming vice-chairman of Bain & Company. In 1991, he moved on to become chairman and CEO of Primerica. Dawkins was a senior partner at Flintlock Capital Asset Management and is currently a senior advisor for Virtu Financial.

Political career[edit]

Sometime before April 1987, Dawkins established residence in Rumson, New Jersey. He ran for the U.S. Senate as a Republican against New Jersey's incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator, Frank Lautenberg, in 1988.[12] The race was notable for the negative tone that emerged from both sides and for Lautenberg's criticism of Dawkins's lack of roots in the state.[13] Dawkins lost in the general election by an eight-point margin.

Electoral history[edit]

External image
image icon Pete Dawkins on the cover of Life Magazine published on April 8, 1966. Displayed at Cover Browser.
  • United States Senate election in New Jersey, 1988[14]


  1. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
  2. ^ Wade, Larry (July 14, 1983). "American Academy of Achievement fills Coronado with famous names" (PDF). Coronado Journal.
  3. ^ "Dawkins". The Thayer Hotel. Retrieved 2023-10-09.
  4. ^ "NFF Announces 2007 Major Awards Recipients". National Football Foundation. 2007-05-17. Archived from the original on 2007-05-19. Retrieved 2007-05-25.
  5. ^ BlackKnight Nation (2021-11-26). Pete Dawkins | Black Knight Nation Podcast. Retrieved 2024-06-10 – via YouTube.
  6. ^ Robinson, Joshua (December 9, 2009). "From Harvard's Gridiron to Oxford's Rugby Pitch". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-12-09.
  7. ^ a b Pete Dawkins
  8. ^ Pete Dawkins Awards
  9. ^ "Captain Pete Dawkins Keeps on Winning". Life Magazine. 40 (14). Times Inc.: cover April 8, 1966. ISSN 0024-3019. Retrieved September 6, 2020 – via Google Books.
  10. ^ Department of Defense. Department of the Army. Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations. U.S. Army Audiovisual Center (1966). "A Nation Builds Under Fire". Series: Motion Picture Films From "The Big Picture" Television Program Series, number 695 (ca. 1950 - ca. 1975). National Archive identifier: 2569876. This video is also available via Internet Archive. Pete Dawkins appears with John Wayne in 13:25 and following minutes.
  11. ^ Heisman.com - Pete Dawkins
  12. ^ Staff. "Panel Formed to Back Senate Bid by Dawkins", The New York Times, April 1, 1987. Accessed September 27, 2015. "Mr. Dawkins is 48 years old and has purchased a home in Rumson."
  13. ^ Donna Cassata and Bruck Shipkowski (3 June 2013). "New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg dies at age 89". The Daily Item. Associated Press. Retrieved 2021-10-18.
  14. ^ "Votes Cast for United States Senator at the General Election held November 8, 1988" (PDF). NJ.gov. Retrieved September 6, 2023.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Republican nominee for U.S. Senator from New Jersey
(Class 1)

Succeeded by