I am writing to inform your readers about a true local hero.
Staff Sgt. James Dikeman served in World War II from 1942-45 as a member of the 179th Military Policy Co. On June 9, 1943, Dikeman was wounded in Tunisia while defending the Katherine Pass against the German Afrika Corps.
After recovering, he returned home, married his wife Catherine and served a distinguished career with the city Parks Department.
But until recently, Dikeman’s actions in North Africa went unrecognized because all his military records were destroyed in a fire at the U.S. Army’s National Personnel Records Center in 1973. Although his actions and wounds had earned him several medals and awards, at the age of 95 he still had not received them.
I met Dikeman’s daughter last year, and when she told me his story, I was determined to right this wrong. I reached out to the Army with his hospital records, and it reconstructed his military records.
This past February, I was able to present Dikeman with his well-deserved awards, among them the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star and the World War II Victory Medal. It had taken 70 years, but Dikeman had finally received the honors he deserved.
I congratulate Dikeman, who lives in Little Neck, and thank him for his service.
If you know a veteran who has been denied a medal or benefits, please call my office at 718-875-1675.
To date I have secured $7.2 million in back pay and owed benefits for veterans, and I am eager to continue serving the men and women who protect our nation.