Our hearts here at USX go out to the family, friends, and team members of Bill Dean. Retired Lt. Col. Arleigh William ‘Bill’ Dean, 45, was among a group of six climbers on Liberty Ridge route of Mt. Rainer, an operation as part of Bill’s expedition company Summit Alaska Adventures, when a rockfall occurred on May 29th 2019 at 10,400 feet, ending Dean’s life, and injuring two others.
This trip and incident comes just 3 weeks after Bill served as expedition leader in a highly successful operation to the Juneau Alaska Icefields for USX that conducted initial data collection to determine the viability for long-term snow water equivalent (SWE) derived from glacier mass-balance techniques. That expedition included science guide Jaime Pierce, and military veterans David O’Rear, Mathew Savage, Ken Gilmore and Mark Williams.
Bill Dean has been an unsung hero in the fight against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria. Dean graduated from the West Point Military Academy in 1997 and much of his career is classified. Early in the campaign against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, which began in 2014, Dean and others on his team identified a path to fight and win against non-state adversaries like ISIS, and he "revolutionized" how the United States could support a proxy force such as the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Tom DiTomasso, a former special operations officer and friend of Dean’s said, “A lot of what Bill Dean did is classified. Bill was the ultimate gray man; most people would have never guessed he served in the Army’s elite ranks. He looked maybe more like he ran the sales department at a Fortune 500 company. But he played such a significant role in our national security. He didn’t look gruff. He didn’t talk overly aggressive. His professionalism and personality made him one of the best Special Forces officers.”
Dean retired from military service in August 2017 and settled back into Alaska where he formed his own expedition company, Summit Alaska Adventures, that offered wilderness guiding and experiential learning with military veterans, scientists, and business executives all around the world. We at USX are really taken aback by this tragic loss and are working with Bill’s family and friends about how best to support. As we build out long term operations for data collection on the Juneau Icefields, started by Bill Dean and his team, we will ensure those USX operations continue in his name and honor moving forward.
Bill Dean leaves behind a wife, Ruth, and two daughters. A memorial service for Dean is scheduled for 3 p.m. ADT on June 17 at 12300 Mendenhall Loop Road in Juneau, Alaska. A GoFundme campaign has been started to support Dean's family.