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Dave Richard Palmer
File:LTG Dave R. Palmer.jpg
Dave Richard Palmer
Born May 31, 1934(1934-05-31) (age 88)
Place of birth Ada, Oklahoma
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1956–1991
Rank US-O9 insignia.svg Lieutenant General
Commands held Superintendent, United States Military Academy
Battles/wars Vietnam
Awards Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star
Air Medal[1]
Other work George Washington and Benedict Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots

Dave Richard Palmer (born May 31, 1934) is a retired United States Army Lieutenant General, former Superintendent of the West Point (1986–1991), military historian and author, and former President of Walden University. A 1956 graduate of West Point, he served two tours in the Vietnam War and numerous command positions during the height of the Cold War.

Early life and education

Palmer was born in Ada, Oklahoma, on May 31, 1934. He grew up in New York and Texas,[2] receiving his appointment to the academy from Texas and graduating 37th in his class from West Point in 1956. He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the armor branch and embarked on a military career that spanned the Cold War era.[3] During his military career, Palmer received a master's degree in history from Duke University.[4]

Military career

Palmer's initial assignment was as an armor officer in Berlin. He commanded a tank company in the 1st Armored Division, and would later command that same division. From 1969 to 1971, he commanded the 2nd Battalion, 33rd Armor in the 3rd Armored Division. His brigade command was of the 1st Brigade, 2nd Armored Division, Fort Hood, Texas, from 1976 to 1977. His career saw two tours in Vietnam, one of these at the Vietnamese National Military Academy.[5]

Palmer's staff and academic assignments included a tour as an instructor in the Department of Military Art and Engineering at West Point where he wrote The River and the Rock in 1969. He also served as the Deputy Commandant of the Army Command and General Staff College. He also served multiple assignments with the Joints Chiefs of Staff and Army staff at the Pentagon.[6][7]


Post military

Upon completion as his tour as West Point Superintendent, Palmer retired from the Army in 1991. He joined the Board of Directors of Walden University the following year. From 1995 to 1999, he served as president of Walden University, where he pioneered distance learning methods. Under Palmer's leadership, enrollment at the university doubled, and now has more than 10,000 students. From 1999 to 2000 he was chief executive officer of Walden e-Learning, Incorporated.[6]

Palmer has been a prolific author throughout his career and is recognized as a premier military historian, publishing several books, including River and the Rock: The History of Fortress West Point 1775-1783, George Washington and Benedict Arnold: A Tale of Two Patriots, 1794: America, Its Army, and the Birth of the Nation, and Summons of Trumpet: US-Vietnam in Perspective.


  1. Hurst, p.9.
  2. Hurst, p.8.
  3. 1956 Register of Graduates and Former Cadets. West Point, NY: The West Point Alumni Foundation, Inc. 1956. p. 477. 
  4. Hurst, p. 8.
  5. Hurst, pp. 8-9.
  6. 6.0 6.1 "2005 Distinguished Graduate Award: Dave R. Palmer". West Point Association of Graduates. Retrieved 2009-04-20. 
  7. Hurst pp. 8-9.

External links


Hurst, John (1987). Bugle Notes 1987–1991. State College, PA: Jostens Printing. 

Military offices
Preceded by
Willard Warren Scott, Jr.
Superintendents of the United States Military Academy
Succeeded by
Howard D. Graves

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