For Dehlinger, creating activities for cadets is as much about presenting them with opportunities to have fun as it is about creating memories for the cadets to share together.
“As a cadet, you respect the bonds of friendships you have while at MMA, but you respect those bonds even more later on,” he says, recalling his own MMA experiences. “After graduation, that’s when you really understand what ‘Band of Brothers’ means.”
“I want to get the cadets out and trying new things with their brothers — making the memories that they will carry with them after they leave MMA,” he adds.
Dehlinger draws inspiration and motivation for his new position from memories of his own time at MMA. He entered MMA as a sophomore, and while attending the academy, he was a member of a several student organizations, including color guard and glee club. By senior year, he had earned the rank of battalion commander (BC), and at graduation, he was honored with the Superior Cadet and JROTC Distinguished Achievement awards, plus the Don Hooten Fellowship Cup.
“I’m not sure it ever really sunk in that I had made it to the top,” Dehlinger says about serving as BC. “I was out in front of the Corps of Cadets commanding drills and reviews — me, the same guy who came to MMA barely able speak to a small group was now addressing the entire corps.”
After graduation, Dehlinger attended his first-choice school, St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, before leaving college to serve as a submariner in the U.S. Navy. After his naval service, Dehlinger went on to earn his Bachelor of Applied Science in Digital Media and Graphic Design from Florida State College in Jacksonville. Dehlinger served as the director of marketing for the Jones Technical Institute in Jacksonville before returning to MMA as the director of cadet activities.
Today, living on campus, Dehlinger is immersed in MMA life and enjoying the connections he is making with the cadets, as well as the opportunity to, and challenge of, keep them engaged and active.
“My goal is to create a robust activity schedule,” Dehlinger says. “Paintball games, having fun on the obstacle courses and the rappelling tower — we will use existing resources, plus spend as much time as we can off campus, at ball games, museums, and more.”
“It’s up to each cadet to fully engage in what MMA has to offer,” he says. “We give them opportunities to get out and explore the world with their brothers, side-by-side. It’s not about a specific event or location for an activity — it’s about making memories through experience.”
Above photo, Dehlinger with cadets during a May 2018 trip to Six Flags.