Dennis was born April 3, 1947 to Lee W., and Ruby M. Duke in Modesto, California. He spent most of his childhood and high school years in San Ardo, California where his family lived until December of his senior year in high school, when his parents moved the family to Greenfield.
He graduated from King City High School in June of 1965 and went into the United States Navy on August 3rd of that same year.
After completion of basic training, Dennis was stationed in Long Beach, and San Diego until he began his tour to Vietnam aboard the USS Valley Forge LPH-8 in 1967, as a Gunners Mate GMG3. After a short time aboard the aircraft carrier, he volunteered for and was accepted into Special Forces, where he became an elite member of the Black Berets and served among the “River-Rats” of River Division 514, patrolling the Mekong Delta in PBR Boats. He was extremely proud to be a part of the “Brown Water Navy”.
He was a combat veteran; few people knew of the combat honors he received, and he served with distinction. He was a recipient of the Bronze Star awarded by the President of the United States, Naval Commendation Medal, Combat Distinguished Device; both awarded by the Secretary of the Navy, Purple Heart, and Combat “V” for Valor.
He was proceeded in death by his parents, Lee W. Duke who was also a War War II Veteran, serving 5 years in the Army, Infantry Division, where he walked across Europe into Germany in the final days of the war. His mother Ruby M. Duke was also involved in the WWII effort where she worked in a factory polishing 125mm shells at the St. Louis Armory the duration of the war. He was always proud to be a part of a strong military family. Dennis also lost a great-nephew, Ethan Valladarez in 2018.
Dennis was a history buff, and his lifelong occupation as an over-the-road Truck Driver allowed him to visit many famous battle fields of both the American Indian/US Calvary famous battle grounds, as well as the Civil War historic battle sites. He was an avid reader spending long hours being snowed in, and subject to many weather-related delays would find him reading through another historic battle and determining the next quest he would embark upon.
Dennis had many stories to tell, a huge number of friends, and the most delightful sense of humor—he will forever be missed.
Dennis is survived by five (5) children, Donald of Spokane, Washington, Jason (Karen) of McEwen, Tennessee, Elizabeth of King City, California, Tara and Jacob (Tara) of Captain Cook, Hawaii. Grandchildren are, Marisa, and Kyra Duke of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, Justin (Shannon) Adams of Lockwood, California and Austin Duke of King City, California. Dennis’ sister, and only sibling Darlene Acosta, also lives in King City, as does his one niece, Shannon Valladarez, and the Valladarez siblings.
In lieu of flowers the family would appreciate donations in honor of Dennis to:
1) “Gary Sinise Foundation”, garysinisefoundation.org . This supports active duty veterans and first responders who make a sacrifices for others.
2) “Vietnam Veterans of America”, VVA.ORG . This gives healthcare for Vietnam Veterans who cannot afford what they need.
Graveside Services will be held at King City Cemetery, on June 1, 2019 at 1 pm.
A Celebration of Life will follow the graveside in the Longbranch building of the Salinas Valley Fair Grounds, 612 Division St., King City.