Alumni Review

McDew ’82 Rises to the Top

McDew '82 on stage

U.S. Air Force Gen. Darren McDew ’82, right, commander, U.S. Transportation Command, shares a moment with U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during McDew’s retirement ceremony at the Scott Events Center Aug. 24, 2018. (Photo caption by Rob Wieland, USTRANSCOM Public Affairs.)

In 1978, a young Darren McDew ’82 from Hampton, Virginia, stepped onto the grounds of Virginia Military Institute to begin Matriculation Day. He didn’t realize that day would begin a journey that would end 40 years later as a U.S. Air Force 4-star general and senior leader in the Department of Defense.

According to The Cadet newspaper, “McDew was not always on the top.”

“No matter what they did to me, I was too stubborn to leave,” he said. “And then as I’ve grown farther, I decided I was going to be somebody’s good-leadership example.”

In 1981 McDew, a civil engineering major, became a regimental commander, setting a pattern of rising to the top that he would continue throughout his career.

After his 1982 graduation he was commissioned into the Air Force and began pilot training at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona.

During his nearly four decades as a military leader, his career culminated in command of U.S. Transportation Command, one of ten combatant commands.

“If you would have told me as a young second lieutenant in Strategic Air Command, flying KC-135s, that I would one day be sitting in the U.S. Transportation Command headquarters, I would have told you that you were absolutely out-of-your-mind crazy,” said McDew during an Airman Magazine interview.

At his recent retirement ceremony, the VMI alumnus was humble in his remarks about his career, and the people he worked with.

“I’ve been blessed to work with many amazing people,” said McDew. “You inspire me every day and I thank you deeply for your outstanding contributions to the defense of this nation.”

He credited his wife, Evelyn, for encouraging him to become a better mentor and helping him progress in his military career.

“I’m an introvert, but she told me I had a story to tell and I should tell it,” McDew said. “She got me out of my comfort zone and inspired me to help others achieve their full potential, especially during my times as a commander.”

McDew concluded his remarks with a nod to both the past and future. “It has been an honor and a privilege to serve in the United States military, and I will watch eagerly as future generations continue to dream and innovate to keep our nation a global superpower.”