By Amy Howe

 Nestled in the heart of Pittsburg, Kansas, Dustin Strong’s story is one of dedication, transformation and an unwavering commitment to history. At 52, this former United States Marine sergeant has traded his modern military life for reenactments of Colonial times, merging his past experiences with his passion for historical education.

Dustin’s journey began in Great Falls, Montana, where he was born in July 1972. As the son of Methodist ministers, he moved frequently during his childhood, finally settling in Pittsburg for his high school years. 

“I decided to join the Marines when I was in third grade,” says Dustin. “Growing up, I was surrounded by World War II veterans who became my surrogate grandparents, listening to their stories about the war and life in the military.”

In August 1989, he enlisted in the Marine Corps Delayed Entry Program, and by the time he left for boot camp in August 1990, the world was on the brink of the Gulf War. 

“All through basic training and my MOS school, I was preparing to go to war,” he shares. Trained as a mortarman, Dustin was set to deploy to Saudi Arabia when fate intervened. “After we completed desert training, we learned the war had been over for 24 hours.”

Assigned to Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment at Twentynine Palms, California, Dustin served until August 1994. His deployments took him from Panama to Okinawa, with notable stops in Hawaii, Guam, Wake Island and Thailand. However, it was his service in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope that left a lasting impact, bringing home both malaria and PTSD.

After transitioning to the Reserves, Dustin continued his military career until 1999, eventually achieving the rank of sergeant. “I got out after serving just under 10 years. It was time for a new chapter,” he says.

Returning to civilian life, Dustin worked for his brother’s masonry company before pursuing higher education. He earned a bachelor’s in education in 2007, followed by a master’s in history curriculum and course design in 2010 from Pittsburg State University. 

“I taught as an adjunct for two years before returning to construction,” he says. “But history was always my passion.”

For the past two-and-a-half years, Dustin has worked as a reporter for the Morning Sun newspaper in Pittsburg, covering historical events, local politics and school boards. His love for history naturally led him to living-history reenactments, where he portrays soldiers from various eras, from the Revolution to World War II.

In 2023, Dustin became a member of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR), an organization dedicated to promoting patriotism and American history. In March, he was elected president of the newly formed Little Balkans Chapter of the SAR in Pittsburg. “The chapter is still getting its legs under it, but we’re excited about the future,” he says.

Under his leadership, the chapter aims to create a historically accurate Color Guard for public events, from parades to football games, especially with the country’s 250th birthday and Pittsburg’s 150th coinciding in 2026. “Our goal is to showcase the life of an 18th-century soldier and demonstrate the battle tactics of the period,” Dustin shares. “We hope to grow into a full-fledged local reenactment society.”

Dustin’s vision for the SAR chapter is guided by the same principles he used in the military. “I set the goals and have the chapter members carry them out while I facilitate their efforts,” he says. His extensive contacts from his reporting career help in organizing events and reaching out to the community.

Dustin’s personal connection to the American Revolution is profound. He is a direct descendant of Georg Jakob Fyock, a German immigrant who served in the 13th Pennsylvania Regiment of the Continental Line. Fyock saw action in some of the most significant battles of the Revolution, including Long Island, Trenton and Valley Forge. 

Dustin’s connection to history is very personal. His five-times great-grandfather participated in the Battle of Trenton, crossing the Delaware River on Christmas night. Exactly 216 years later, Dustin found himself in a similar situation, crossing the Somali desert to secure a remote airfield. 

“Being a combat Marine, I’ve been in those same situations. I’ve experienced the same hardships that my five-times great-grandfather did 216 years before,” Dustin reflects. “I understand exactly what he went through. I know my history.

“Knowing our history—knowing and understanding where we came from as a nation and as individuals—is more important than many realize or want to admit,” he shares. “History is the passing of knowledge from one generation to the next. Mathematics, art, science, literature, engineering, language, none of it exists unless passed down through time. Knowledge does not exist without history. “

Despite his diverse experiences and achievements, Dustin remains humble. “One of the reasons I was chosen as president of the SAR is because I’m ‘young’ – I turn 52 in July,” he jokes. His leadership, however, is anything but youthful naivety. “Our plan is to provide a period-correct color guard for civic events and celebrations. My prime directive for the members is: if you think of it, you’re in charge of it.”

From his days as a Marine sergeant to his current role as a SAR chapter president, Dustin embodies a unique blend of military discipline and historical enthusiasm. His story is a testament to how one can honor the past while educating and inspiring the present. Through reenactments and leadership, Dustin ensures the sacrifices of those who came before us are never forgotten, bringing history to life one event at a time.