DANSVILLE — It has been a long battle for a Korean War veteran to get his second purple heart, and it’s not over yet.
Korean War Veteran James Dixon, a former Dansville native, reached out to Genesee Country Express to tell his story of the 65 year-long-battle.
Dixon had been wounded in combat on July 24, 1953 and again the very next day. He was a patient at the St. Alban’s Naval Hospital in Long Island for almost 10 months. It was at this time he received his first Purple Heart, but he never got his second one.
“The first time I was wounded I was in a fight hole. All of a sudden I was blown into a trench. Something landed above my head. Thank God I had sandbags above me,” he said. “When I got up I felt my arms, legs, and head to see if I was okay. I was bleeding a lot from my left arm. I had been knocked cold, and it took me awhile to get out of the trench. I had to make my way to the Command Post for help. They put a sulfa drug in my cut, and put my arm in a sling. I was told to go lay down, because we couldn’t move out.”
Dixon was on the main line of resistance or the MLR. They were under a cover of darkness and hellfire.
“They put you in these fight holes, so you were in an attack position. We were overrun by thousands of the enemy,” he said. “My platoon leader had come in and told us that most had been badly wounded. I had to go back out into the trench, and I got hit with a grenade. The hand grenade hit my jacket. These kinds of devices explode after so many seconds. You didn’t want to have to throw it back.”
This was the second time Dixon had been severely wounded. The grenade put holes in his stomach, foot, abdomen, and right arm. This happened in the early hours of July 25, 1953.
“No one could help me as I was laying there, and I nearly had my leg blown off,” he said. “I had to get back to the post on my own, and that took my strong will to survive.”
Dixon has sent many letters to those in authority over his missing Purple Heart. Finally in July of this year he got a few responses.
Naval Records showed that not only did he miss out on his second Purple Heart but there are several other medals he was supposed to receive 65 years ago. It states that Dixon had enlisted in the Marine Corps for active duty on Sept. 16, 1952. It further states that Dixon arrived in Korea in June 1953 and was sent to the Company “H”, Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment as a rifleman. On July 24, 1953 he was wounded in combat by mortar and artillery fragments, and on July 25, 1953 he was wounded again in combat by grenade fragments.
On Sept. 2, 1953 he was awarded the Purple Heart with a Gold Star. On Dec. 7, 1953 he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his actions on both days. On May 31, 1954 he was listed as temporarily retired as a result of the injuries. After this he was meant to get the following awards: Bronze Star Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal and United Nations Service Medal. On Jan. 15, 1999 it was changed to the following: Bronze Star Medal with Combat, Purple Heart Medal, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon, and Korean Presidential Unit Citation. He was also meant to get Combat Action Ribbon, Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, and Republic of Korean War Service Medal.
It had been recently determined after review of the records that Dixon was also meant to get the following: Purple Heart Medal (second) with one Gold Star, and a Rift
Sharpshooter Badge with the following awards already mentioned.
The battle wages on for Dixon, but he hopes to get his second Purple Heart for the injuries he received in combat on that fateful night so long ago.
“They tried to tell me for years that there was no records of me being wounded,” he said. “It took me years to get anyone to read my letters. I had to send in requests, and all my hospital records. They had claimed there was no records of me being in this hospital, and I was there nine-and-a-half-months.”