2015 - Denny Merideth, 73

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Coach Denny Merideth

Denny Merideth (73) developed a passion for rugby as a cadet at the Air Force Academy in 1969 that matured into a life-long dedication to a philosophy founded upon the spirit of rugby. This passion led him to successful careers in the Air Force, U.S. State Department, Missouri State Legislature and private business. After 40 years Denny finally moved back to the Colorado Springs area in 2013 and volunteered to assist with the Air Force Academy Rugby Club.

Denny has previously coached with both the US Air Force Rugby Team and the U.S. Combined Services Team. During his 14 years with the Combined Services Denny took the team on tours to England, Wales, Germany, Canada, Australia and New Zealand gaining valuable experience as a coach and mentor. He has also coached club teams in Poland, The Philippines, and the Netherlands.

Highlights of his Air Force career include serving as an F-15 Combat Instructor Pilot, the Senior Military Advisor for Royal Saudi Military Forces in southwestern Saudi Arabia, Commander of Air Liaison Personnel assigned to the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division, Operations Commander of a 560-person fighter unit in Iceland, and Instructor Pilot for the Royal Jordanian Air Force. Denny’s tours took him to a number of locations including Korea, Denmark, Iceland, Germany, Jordan, and Honduras.

Denny returned to work with his brother on the family farm after retiring from the Air Force. Together they carried on the family farming tradition. Shortly after arriving though Denny was elected as the first independent State Representative to the Missouri House of Representatives since 1891. He became the senior member of the Budget Committee and worked diligently to ensure Missouri had a balanced budget in difficult economic times. He strove to serve both as a dedicated public servant by providing dedicated constituent services and as an engaged legislator.

Soon after September 11, 2001 Denny joined the U.S. State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. During his final tour overseas Denny led a dynamic political team of U.S. and U.K. civilian and military personnel throughout Helmand Province in Afghanistan as the Senior U.S. Political Advisor. As the principal political advisor to the Ambassador at U.S. Embassy The Hague he directed a wide range of activities related to European security issues, including NATO and the EU's European Security and Defense Policy. He was a frequent lecturer at Leiden University and member of roundtable dialogues at The Hague Center for Strategic Studies. While stationed at the U.S. Embassy Manila Denny served as the Executive Officer for the Ambassador’s outreach efforts and synchronized the Mission’s 27 separate federal agencies. During his tenure at the U.S. Consulate in Krakow, Poland he was recognized as the section leader in standard-setting analysis and developed leadership tenets that were lauded by the State Department headquarters in Washington D.C.