Chaplain Corps, U.S. Navy
Senior Command Chaplain
U.S. Coast Guard Academy
CAPT John (Van) Dickens was born on 11 March 1955 in Hickory, North Carolina. He graduated from Centenary College of Louisiana in 1977 with a B. A. degree in Religion, and then received the Master of Theology degree from Southern Methodist University in 1983. In 1990, he graduated from Emory University with a Doctor of Ministry degree. Chaplain Dickens was ordained Elder in 1985 by the Louisiana Conference of the United Methodist Church and is currently a member of the North Carolina Conference.
In August 1994, he was commissioned a Lieutenant in the U. S. Navy (Chaplain Corps), completing the Navy Chaplain’s Basic Course in Newport, Rhode Island in October 1994, and reported for duty at Second Marine Division, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina with deployments to Okinawa, Japan and South Korea.
In July 1997, Chaplain Dickens was assigned to United States Coast Guard Yard, Baltimore Maryland as Command Chaplain. In September 2000, he reported to USS Lake Erie (CG 70), participating in theater ballistic missile defense testing in the South Pacific. In September 2002, he was assigned to the United States Naval Academy as staff chaplain.
In October, 2005, he transferred to First Marine Division, where he deployed with the Third Battalion, Fifth Marines to Al Anbar Province, Iraq in support of OIF 05-7.1. He was then reassigned as Regimental Chaplain, Eleventh Marines. He was again reassigned as Deputy Division Chaplain, and again reassigned as Division Chaplain.
His next assignment was to U. S. Marine Corps Forces Command as Deputy Command Chaplain in January 2009 in Norfolk, Virginia. In January 2012, he was assigned to Naval Station, Guantanamo Bay Cuba, as Command Chaplain. He reported to the U. S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut in June 2013 as Command Chaplain.
In addition to his unit and service awards, CAPT Dickens’ personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (with one gold star), the Navy Commendation Medal (with 2 gold stars), the Navy Achievement Medal (with 1 gold star), and the Coast Guard Achievement Medal. He is designated to wear the Fleet Marine Force Qualification Officer (FMFQO) insignia.
CAPT Dickens is married to the former Kathy Clark of Monroe, Louisiana. Together they are blessed with two daughters, Emily, who resides in California, and Caroline, who resides in Texas.