WorldWar II Vet Finally Gets His Purple Heart
He Is Awarded For Service In Key Battle
Rep. Bob Turner honored 93-year-old World War II Veteran Anton Dietrich Jr. of Richmond Hill by presenting him with the Purple Heart for his actions during the battle of Sedjenine, Tunisia in 1943 at a ceremony last Wednesday, Apr. 11, at the Sgt. Edward R. Miller VFW Post 7336 in Glendale.
Turner took the podium to thank the distinguished guests and read Dietrich’s biography. After telling the story of Dietrich’s life, Turner talked about why the 93-year-old’s story should serve as an inspiration for everyone.
“Anton Dietrich has shown the type of bravery and resilience that every American should aspire to,” said Turner. “Neither a German torpedo that left him stranded in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea nor the injuries he sustained from the shrapnel of a German mortar in Sedjenine could break Mr. Dietrich’s will. His actions in battle are a testament to why he and all of the other heroes that fought during World War II are truly part of the Greatest Generation.”
Capt. Christina Mouradjian of the Fort Hamilton Army Garrison in Brooklyn read the history of the Purple Heart Medal before Turner pinned the medal onto the 93 year old veteran.
Dietrich took the opportunity to thank Turner and his staff for helping him verify his eligibility for the medal.
“Even with all the evidence I submitted, telegrams, newspaper articles, and other documents, I could not accomplish this on my own,” Dietrich said. “After Arno Heller’s ceremony I decided to give it one more shot - if anyone can do it, it must be a Con- gressman. Sure enough, Congressman Turner delivered.”
When commenting on what the Purple Heart meant to him Dietrich said, “It is an award that no one seeks but an award I am proud to wear.”
Commissioner Terrance Holliday of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Veterans’ Affairs read a letter on behalf of Mayor Michael Bloomberg thanking Dietrich for his service to our country.
“I have been able to present twelve medals to World War II veterans since taking office,” Turner said following the event. “Each one of them serves as a special opportunity to give thanks and recognize the heroes who deserve it most. If it weren’t for the sacrifices of the men and women who fought in this war, we would not have the freedoms or opportunities that we often take for granted today.
Dietrich was awarded the Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster for injuries sustained while serving with the Army’s 39th Regiment, Ninth Infantry Division, Second Battalion, Company G, on Apr. 28, 1943, in support of the Allied Invasion of North Africa in World War II.
The Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster is a U.S. Armed Forces individual military decoration awarded for “being wounded or killed in any action against an enemy of the United States or as a result of an act of any such enemy or opposing armed forces.”
More than 700 World War II veterans die each year. Approximately 75 percent of those veterans living today are 85 or older.
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