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VFW Magazine February 2017 : Page 21

“The opportunity to hunt antelope in Montana is something I’ll never forget for as long as I live.” PHILLIP WOODWARD fi red rifl e grenades at us.” Dittemore and another Marine in the schoolhouse were wounded. They called for reinforcements, and as soon as those troops arrived the enemy faded away, he says. A little more than three weeks later on May 17, Dittemore was helping guard a bridge in Quang Tri north of Hue. He and the other Marines were recuperating from a pre-vious fi refi ght and were preparing for a night reconnaissance mission. He remembers see-ing a “small red light” off in the distance. “It looked like the glow of a lit cigarette, but it was a 122mm rocket,” he said. “When it exploded, I thought it had taken my eyes.” He sustained another shrapnel wound, but his eyes were fi ne. About an hour later as a medic was cleaning his face, Dittemore says he got some good news. “They told me that was my third Purple Heart and I was getting out of there,” he said. After a paperwork mix-up kept him at DaNang for nearly two weeks, he was sent off to Okinawa and eventually back to his family farm in Rushville, Mo., near St. Joseph. Noting that he didn’t get along with his stepfather, Dittemore tried his hand in the oil fi elds of Texas. “But I couldn’t get my life together, so I joined the Army,” he said. From 1975-76, Dittemore served with the 2nd Infantry Division in Korea at Camp Hovey and Tongdachon. He then served with the 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment in Nuremberg, Germany, from 1977-79. “I liked it overseas,” he recalls. After his Army service, a tip from a fel-low soldier in Germany led him to the ship-yards in Bremerton, Wash. But a few weeks after landing a job there, he was laid off. Dittemore eventually found a career with Energy Northwest in nearby Richland. He FEBRUARY 2017 • WWW.VFW.ORG • 21

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