Todd Denson Memorial Scholarship

Major Todd S. Dennison
Call Sign: Cuddles
Died: February 3, 2001

Todd Denson, 32, son of an Army chaplain, grew up in an era when young men were lured into military aviation by the movie “Top Gun.” He was commissioned in the United States Marine Corps after graduating from the University of Tennessee. He wanted to fly the F/A-18 which he considered a safer plane, said his widow Melissa Denson Rankin. He quickly became a Harrier enthusiast after being assigned to the AV-8B, and had some close calls in the Harrier before his fatal accident.

He had been flying the Harrier for a decade and had been an instructor for two years, yet he kept emergency procedures written on flashcards and studied them constantly, Rankin said. “He knew it was a dangerous plane and he took it very seriously.”

He died when he and his student, Capt. Jason K. Meiners, lost control of the two-seat training Harrier they were flying to their base at Cherry Point. Denson, in the rear seat, ejected too close to the ground. Meiners was also killed in the accident.

This scholarship opportunity was created by the New Bern Breakfast Rotary Club in memory of deceased and former Rotarian Major Todd S. Denson to assist graduating college-bound seniors with their advancement in professional, educational, and technical learning opportunities.

Each year individuals are selected and awarded a one-year, $1,000 scholarship. To be eligible for the scholarship, individuals must be graduates of one of the high schools in Craven County, North Carolina. Students are selected based on the application and possible interview that focus on academic achievement, community service, extracurricular activities, and financial need.

To apply for this scholarship please go to the Todd Denson Application Package and submit your entire package online. Any questions can be directed to Dr. Dwight Carlblom, Scholarship Coordinator at