Turner Honors Vet With Purple Heart
Congressman Bob Turner held a ceremony to honor 93-year-old World War II veteran Anton Dietrich Jr. of Richmond Hills, Queens, presenting him with the Purple Heart for his actions during the battle of Sedjenane, Tunisia in 1943.
The event, held yesterday at the Sgt. Edward R. Miller VFW Post 7336 in Richmond Hill, Queens, began with Disabled American Veterans Chapter #118 Commander Louis Nicoletti welcoming everyone and leading those in attendance in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Turner then took the podium to thank the distinguished guests and read Dietrich’s biography. After telling the story of the veteran’s life, Congressman Turner talked about why his 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 Sedjenane 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.”
Captain Christina Mouradjian, of the Fort Hamilton Army Garrison in Brooklyn, NY, then read the history of the Purple Heart Medal before Congressman Turner pinned the medal onto the 93-year-old veteran.
Dietrich took the opportunity to thank Congressman Turner and his staff for helping him verify his eligibility for the medal.
“Thank you Congressman Turner for the work that you’ve done,” said Dietrich. “You’ve accomplished something that I could not do. Even with all the evidence I submitted, telegrams, newspaper articles, and other documents, I could not accomplish this on my own. After Arno Heller’s ceremony I decided to give it one more shot – if anyone can do it, it must be a Congressman. 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 Bloomberg thanking Dietrich for his service to our country.
As the ceremony came to a close, Congressman Turner invited everyone to join him for refreshments and sang along to “God Bless America” lead by Captain Mouradjian.
“I have been able to present twelve medals to WWII 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, 9th Infantry Division, 2nd Battalion, Company G, on April 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. Seventy-five percent of those veterans living today are 85 or older.