FSgt (Retired) James Dresser was born in Florida in 1934, then moved to Pittsburgh, PA in 1942 after his father was drafted into the Navy for the duration of WWII. “Top” joined the US Army at 17 years of age, on November 1, 1951, and completed his Army career after 20+ years of service on April 30, 1972. During that time he served two, one-year tours in Vietnam – 1965-1966 and then again in 1968-1969. In addition to the many US Army posts he served in the States, he spent time in Wurzburg, Germany, Camps Casey and Kiser in Korea, and Ft. Richardson, Alaska (twice).
At Ft. Benning, Georgia, he was assigned to the Airborne Department as a Pathfinder instructor. At Ft. Jackson, SC, Top completed his Drill Sergeant Course — he then trained troops at Ft. Bragg, NC and Ft. Benning, GA.
On March 1, 1965 he received orders to go to the Republic of Vietnam. He arrived in country in May, 1965 and was assigned to “A” Company 2nd Battalion, 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate), located at Bien Hoa, Vietnam. Says Top: “I honestly enjoyed being a leader of men and working with them, as I always placed myself in their shoes. I tried to lead as I’d like to be led.”
Dale Olson, a trooper who served with Top states: “Jim looked out for us, his troopers. Today, years later, he still thinks about, remains in contact, and helps out the troopers under his command. He was, and is, a great leader. Now as we go through life as equals, he wants what is best for us. The ultimate being … 37 years after our mutual friend Lamar Frederick was killed in action, he initiated honoring Lamar’s mom as a Gold Star Mother. He was true to form and got the job done. I consider it an honor to be his friend.”
Top also introduced the option of including the Gold Star immediate family members to the 173d South Carolina Chapter 30 members. That proposal was taken to the Mid-Winter Conference in 2005 and introduced to the Society’s Board of Directors. The proposal was accepted and changed to include Gold Star Immediate Family Members.
His awards and decorations include the Combat Infantry Badge, Airborne Parachutist Badge, Expert Rifle and Pistol Marksmanship Badge, Drill Sergeant Badge, four Overseas Combat Hash Marks, Bronze Star Ribbon w/V device and two oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation ribbon w/V device and two oak clusters, Army Good Conduct ribbon w/one silver knot (15 years) and oak leaf cluster, National Defense Service ribbon w/one oak leaf cluster, Vietnam Service medal/ribbon w/one silver star and one bronze star, Korean Defense Service ribbon, Vietnam Campaign ribbon, Army Presidential Unit Citation ribbon w/ two oak clusters, Army Meritorious Unit Citation, RVN Gallantry Cross Unit Citation w/palm, and the RVN Civic Action Honor Unit Citation w/palm.
After his retirement from the Military in April 1972, FSgt (Retired) Dresser has been in the field of security enforcement, mostly in leadership positions. He enjoys this type of work as he gets a chance to interact with the public, as well as train new security officers.
Top, the father of six children, was widowed in 1999 after being married to Geraldine for 44 years. He is presently married to Barbara (mother of five children), and living in Easley, South Carolina. Both Top and Barbara are actively supporting veterans of all wars, and both have been actively involved in forming the 173d Airborne Chapter 30 of South Carolina. In addition, Top and Barbara have unofficially “adopted” several active military troops and a couple of 173d troopers stationed in Vincenza, Italy – all who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.