Someone You Should Know: South Dakota Purple Heart Recipient Honored

Purple Heart recipients from all over the country met in new Windsor, New York for a special gathering. It’s called the Purple Heart Patriot Mission #1. It’s a lot like the honor flights, only this one focuses on those who were wounded in battle and received a Purple Heart Medal.

A South Dakota man is among those in New York who made the all expenses paid trip. Robert Dickerson served almost 30 years in the National Guard and Army, rising to the highest rank for an enlisted soldier.

“It was just something I always wanted to do; my father was in the military also.

One of the first things you will notice about Dickerson is his deep calm voice. This retired U.S. Army Sargent Major put that voice to good use, part of his job was working as an adviser training Iraqi soldiers after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

According to Dickerson,“we lived with them, ate with them, fought with them trained them.”

During his time in the Middle East, Dickerson avoided injury in two assassination attempts, being shot at and being blown up by an IED. However, one day in 2007 an attack left him badly wounded. Dickerson was getting ready to come back the states for extra training when the base came under rocket fire.

“So I started running to the bunker which wasn’t that far away maybe 40 feet and from the time I heard the alarm go off, the rocket had impacted that fast, I still remember  hearing it but then was a big explosion,” he said.

The five soldiers near him were killed. To this day Dickerson is dealing with the wounds of that rocket attack including a traumatic brain injury, hearing loss and nerve damage on the right side of his body. Because of this attack was presented with the Purple Heart

“It’s the last thing any one wants to get, it really is,” he said. “But it’s also, when you survive, quite the honor too.”

So when Dickerson got word from the National Purple Heart Honor Mission that he and his wife were selected to attend the event, he was honored.

“The thing that excites me”, he said. “Is I’m going to go over there and there are going to be purple heart recipients from across the nation you know so it’s the first time this is kind of happening and its pretty cool you know I’m gonna meet these people from all over the country  from hopefully Korea, World War II , Vietnam , The Gulf War, Iraq, Afghanistan. I’m hoping we have a good mixture of vets like that because I love talking with the old vets because the stories they tell you are just incredible.”

All expenses for the Purple Heart recipients are paid by the National Purple Heart Honor Mission and American Airlines

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