AFRH-G Resident Highlight - Dexter Marchman
By Lori Kerns | Librarian
Dexter Marchman was born in 1945 at home in a rural area outside of Villa Rica, Georgia. His grandparents raised him and his siblings, in addition to other family members, in a three-room house that had no indoor plumbing, central air, or heat that was situated on a 40-acre farm. His grandfather took care of their family by farming and caring for animals. He also added to the family’s income by working as a root doctor and diviner. There were times when his grandpa had to rely on himself and other black families in their community to come protect his family and their property from the Ku Klux Klan. Thankfully, to Dexter’s knowledge, no one was ever harmed when this happened. In 1950, the family moved to the city of Villa Rica into a former funeral home. The basement was converted into a café where they served sandwiches and soft drinks like Coca-Cola, which was a big deal at that time. Upstairs in the two front rooms of the house, Dexter’s grandpa operated his root doctor and tarot reading businesses. While Dexter attended school, Jim Crow laws were still in effect so schools, businesses, etc. were still segregated. In eighth grade he began attending a segregated county school that was more modern with great teachers. He was bussed about sixteen miles to school each day. In the afternoons he would hang out at the café or work unloading trucks or picking cotton until sunset. Wednesday nights and Sunday were devoted to church. Throughout his schooling, education was never stressed at home. However, Dexter still managed to do well enough in school that when he took both the Air Force and Army entrance exams he passed them both. He consulted with his brother who advised him to join the military since there were not many career options in Villa Rica. He was not eighteen after graduating high school so both his parents had to sign giving permission for him to join the United States Air Force.
Two days after graduating high school, Dexter left by airplane (his first time flying) for basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas. After basic, he was sent to security police technical school where he learned law enforcement, weapons training, judo, and more. He received his first duty assignment for Whiteman AFB in Missouri but was quickly assigned to guard McConnell AFB’s missile sites. Dexter stayed in the field of security for a while until receiving a special duty assignment as a military training instructor (MTI). While working as an MTI, he attended technical school to qualify as a medical administrative specialist so that he could eventually leave the security police field. He was stationed at Sheppard AFB when he met Shirley, his future wife. The two were married after he completed a tour of duty in Korea. When Dexter returned home, he married Shirley as promised. The couple moved around the country for his duty assignments. While working for the command surgeon’s office at Andrews AFB, Dexter and Shirley had a baby girl, Lorri. The family followed Dexter to his next station at Brooks AFB in San Antonio, Texas until the couple decided their marriage was not working and divorced. While assigned at Brooks AFB, he finished a bachelor’s degree in business management at Southwest Texas State University then was assigned to the U.S. Air Force Academy Hospital where he supervised the resource management office until his retirement in 1983. He retired as a young senior master sergeant with 20 years of service.
Dexter began looking for jobs back in Villa Rica. He continued his search, while working odd jobs, until he called a friend at Eglin AFB in Fort Walton Beach, Florida to see if there were any open positions there. He became the quality assurance coordinator, in addition to risk manager, at Eglin AFB Hospital. He stayed there for ten years before taking another civil service position in the same field in Bitburg, Germany under the condition that he had return rights to his position at Eglin. He stayed in Germany for three years working and enjoying the local culture before making it back to Eglin. Upon his return, he found that he could not have his original position but was given the position of chief of manpower function. He would later become the chief of the financial and management element, where he worked until his retirement in 2007. After retirement, Dexter built a 3,000 square foot custom home in Crestview, Florida. When the maintenance and upkeep of his house got too hard to maintain on his own, he made the decision to move to AFRH-G.
Dexter has been at AFRH-G since 2019. He enjoys the food and the solitude of his apartment. He also enjoys the friends he has made. AFRH-G is very proud to have such a remarkable and accomplished veteran living among its residents.