Pat Dyer was born in 1932 in California. He grew up in Grass Valley and Willits, California, with an older brother and a younger sister. His parents were married when his mother was 16 and his father was 18. His father held a variety of jobs, including in a gold mine, where he rose to the level of superintendent, working in a shipyard during World War II, and at a sawmill. As a boy Pat enjoyed playing football and he worked in a hardware store, a grocery store, and at a service station. When it came time to pick a college, he was interested in the University of California, the University of Oregon, where he had a football scholarship, and West Point, where he was the first alternate. Arriving at the Military Academy by train as a naive 17-year-old, he recalls hearing the noise of Beast Barracks all the way down at the train station. During his first summer, he was homesick and felt ever-present pressure. He noted that the war in Korea shaped the intensity of the military training the Cadets received. He struggled academically until he got into the habit of studying. He really enjoyed his law class but found math challenging. He tried to walk-on to the Plebe football team, but at a time when Army became the #1 football team in the nation, he was told, “If we didn’t recruit you, you’re not playing football at Army.” Later, after the 1952 cheating scandal, when most of the football team was kicked out, the coaches returned to Pat with an offer to play ball. By that time, he understood the amount of work required to maintain his grades, and he declined. As a Firstie, he served as the Company First Sergeant for M-2. The Army had recently been desegregated and during this period there were about four African Americans in each class. Pat and his roommate Ron Gamble volunteered to room with one of the African Americans in the Class of 1954, Hugh Robinson, and they becoming close friends. He chose to branch Armor and married Shirley Shine at Ft. Knox, Kentucky. After the basic course, he attended Airborne and Ranger School. When he reported to the Adjutant of the 4th Armored Division at Ft. Hood, he was chastised for wearing his Ranger tab, which made a poor impression on him. After his assignment at Ft. Hood, he was stationed with the 14th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Bad Hersfeld, Germany, and patrolled the Fulda Gap. In 1957, he left the Army, earning an MBA at Harvard before embarking on a successful business career through hard work, dedication, and the ethics he learned at West Point. He eventually wrote a book called “Hardball in the Boardroom,” describing his experiences in the business world.
In this interview, he talks about his childhood, his West Point experiences, his service in the Army, and his business career. He discusses the honor system and, having served on the Honor Committee as a Cow and Firstie, describes it as a “great and fair system.” He recalls some of the personalities he encountered as a Cadet, including John Eisenhower (English Professor), George Patton III, and Paul Tibbets, whom he met on a trip to Eglin Air Base. He reflects on how he put the lessons he learned at the Military Academy to use in creating a successful career. Finally, he reflects on West Point and the teamwork he developed there, stating, “I owe so much” to the Academy.