A Richmond Hill street now bears the name of a member of the Greatest Generation: the late Anton J. Dietrich Jr., a World War II veteran and lifelong resident of the neighborhood.
Dietrich died in February 2018 at the age of 99 and the intersection of 89th Avenue and 134th Street was co-named in his honor.
“I stand here with great pride honoring World War II veteran Anton Dietrich. Not only did Anton bravely serve our country, he also served his community upon his return,” Councilman Eric Ulrich said. “He was an admirable public servant, who dedicated his life to helping others. I am thrilled Anton’s legacy will live on in Richmond Hill through co-naming this intersection. It is my hope that it will serve as a small reminder of his sacrifice to all those who walk by.”
Dietrich was born on Sept. 17, 1918, on 89th Avenue in Richmond Hill, having lived on the same street for most of his life. His family moved from the middle of the avenue to the corner house in 1922 due to the construction of the Axel Building.
Corporal Dietrich served in the 9th Infantry Division – 39th Regiment, G Company from 1941 through 1947. Years after his return he was awarded two Purple Hearts, a Bronze Star, the French Legion of Honor, and many other awards.
“As I stand here on 89th Avenue, the street my father, Anton J. Dietrich Jr. was born and raised on, I can’t help but reflect on the numerous ways he contributed to this community. A neighborhood he loved and was a valuable part of,” Marion Ziegler said. “The pride I have for him and his civic and military contributions is what drove me to seek this honor for him. I am thankful to New York City for recognizing what a charitable and conscientious man he was. Thanks to our friends on 89th Avenue and New York City, my dad’s memory will live on for a long time to come.”
In November 1942, Dietrich’s ship was hit by a German torpedo and he spent 16 hours floating in the Mediterranean Sea before he was rescued by British troops. He saw combat in Africa, Sicily and France landing on Utah Beach during the Invasion of Normandy and helped imprison several high-ranking Nazi officers.
His active service would come to an end on July 12, 1944, when he was seriously wounded by a mortar shell. He spent the next 32 months in the hospital and was discharged from Maryland’s Walter Reed Medical Center in 1947.
Dietrich married Charlotte Starr in 1945 and was married for 72 years, raising five children on 89th Avenue. He was an usher at Our Lady of the Cenacle for 63 years, a member of Community Board 9 for 43 years, the Van Wyck Civic Association, the Richmond Hill Republican Club, Past Commander of the VFW – Lt. F.J. McConnell Post No. 229 and Past President of the Kiwanis Club of Bellerose.
“By celebrating Anton Dietrich’s life, we are honoring a veteran who embodied the spirit of courage, selfless service and willingness to fight for the future of our community,” Councilwoman Adrienne Adams said. “His life expressed a deep love for others and my hope is that we never forget his life and legacy.”