Growing up in Port Trevorton, Pennsylvania, Dennis Wolfe wanted to see the world. However, his small town had few ways to make a living and even fewer opportunities to travel. So, in 1962, Wolfe enlisted in the Army after graduating high school.
Wolfe attended basic training in Fort Gordon, Georgia, where he wanted to go Airborne. However, a knee injury ended that goal, and instead, he eventually decided to attend Explosive Ordnance Disposal School. After graduating, Wolfe entered the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) field where he received assignments that included supporting the Secret Service with presidential protection.
Later, while working as an EOD instructor at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, Wolfe went to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, to participate in the 1st Special Forces Operational Detachment-Delta selection process. He joined the elite Delta Force. While undergoing the selection process, Wolfe caught the eye of superiors including Command Sgt. Maj. Mel Wick who stated in a 2018 Army article, “There were several reasons Dennis was chosen… he had a very important skill that was missing in the group we were assembling. It didn’t take him long at all to earn the respect of the other more experienced Soldiers that he was in the training course with.”
In 1980, Wolfe served as a team leader during Operation Eagle Claw, a mission to rescue American hostages held in Iran. For the operation, Wolfe worked with breaching charges and disarming booby traps. Another notable assignment includes working with an Italian counter-terrorism force in 1981 to help return U.S. Brig. Gen. James Dozier who was kidnapped by the Red Brigades, a militant communist group. He also served as a team leader in Operation Urgent Fury, the invasion of Grenada.
After 25 years in the Army, Wolfe retired in 1987. However, his work in EOD did not end as he continued his work as a civil servant with the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). Here, Wolfe was pivotal in integrating important EOD tactics and principles into special operations, increasing the capability of countering threats including weapons of mass destruction. When discussing Wolfe’s work, Wick stated, “He had the courage to do some really amazing things and has made contributions that are just unmeasurable to the security of the United States.”
Wolfe retired from JSOC after 23 years. His awards include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.
His 50-year career in EOD and special operations also earned Wolfe the 2018 Bull Simons Award, a special operations lifetime achievement award.
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