The Journey Continues: D.Tr heodore 'Ted' Dake
Editor’s note: This is the second part in a two-part column about Dr. Theodore Dake. Part one was published on Sunday, Sept. 8.
Dr. Dake said his military experiences are ultimately what lead him to pursue psychiatry.
“There were two reasons I became interested in a medical psychiatric specialty: First, when assigned to the Air Commando unit, I was curious as to why and how men managed the courage to volunteer for dangerous assignments,” Dake said. “Second, while in the CIA Special Unit ‘Blackbird’ project, I was enamored by the pilots who had the courage to fly over hostile countries to collect vital intelligence information. I wanted to understand the nature of their unselfish courage.”
One example of the challenge of his work as chief of psychiatry at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, happened when a former patient he had treated was being processed out of the USAF at Robins AFB in Georgia. This man was holding his squadron commander and the major general, who was the center’s commander, at gunpoint. Dake flew to Georgia from Eglin in a T-38; at the time he arrived, the SWAT team was already deployed around the commander’s office. Dake entered the room and after much dangerous interchange, convinced the airman to surrender his gun and free the hostages unharmed.
“I am a believer — I was 9 years old when I was baptized at First Baptist Church in Ada, Oklahoma. I believe there is something to prayer. My favorite hymn is the ‘Old Rugged Cross’ and my favorite Bible passage is Psalms 23,” Dake said. “I have walked through some valleys.”
The Dakes are members of First Baptist Church on Mc-Carty Lane.
Dake retired as hospital commander of Bergstorm AFB in Texas in 1978. He entered private psychiatric practice in Austin and currently practices in San Marcos. Married to Thea Scherer, for 57 years, they have two daughters. On Oct. 16, he will be 89 years old. After retiring from the USAF, he continued to fly his beloved Bonanza A-36 and has logged more than 7,000 lifetime hours.
He was promoted below the zone three times, an honor reserved for exceptional airmen who stand out from their peers and perform duties at a level above their current rank. His awards and decorations include Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters and the Presidential Unit Citation. In addition to fighting in two wars, he remains the only person in military history to have achieved a tri-rating of Command Pilot, Master Parachutist and Chief Physician.
Dr. Dake’s advice: “Do your best, do the right thing, be respectful, be honest, trust but confirm."
His life is defined by meeting challenges with endurance.