James J. Dietrich
By Ward Stone
James Dietrich enlisted in the US Navy on the day he graduated from high school in June 1943 and entered active duty in the regular Navy in July 1943. He served aboard USS LST (Landing Ship Tank) 920 as a Signalman 3rd Class/Seaman 1st class in the European and Pacific theaters; he landed with his ship at Utah Beach, Normandy and on the beach at Okinawa for the last battle of WWII. He was discharged from active duty on October 20, 1946. Awards received include the Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with Battle Star, Combat Action Ribbon, China Service Medal, America Campaign Medal, World War Two Victory Medal, and Navy Occupation Service Medal.
On August 29, 1950 Jim was ordered onto active duty in the U.S. Navy reserve for service in the Korean War. He served as Quartermaster 3rd Class aboard USS Epperson Destroyer Escort 719 and received the Korean Service Medal.
Jim married Mary Lou Bryson of Columbus, Ohio in 1947, his bride of 71 years until her passing in 2018. Their daughters are Susan Jean Pierson and Rochelle Linn Stone; Jim has two grandchildren, Brian and Melissa Stone, and two great grandchildren, Luke and Benjamin Mantilla. Jim and his family moved from Columbus, Ohio to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1957. He retired from the U.S. Postal system with 33 years of service, spanning from 1947 until 1980. His postal delivery route in Fort Lauderdale required walking 14 miles daily Monday through Friday. He received the Postal System’s safe driving award every year from its inception to include the year of his retirement. Every Saturday night, into the early hours of Sunday morning, from 1968 until 1983, he supervised the printing of the Sunday edition of Fort Lauderdale’s premier daily newspaper The Sun Sentinel. Upon his postal retirement he moved with his wife to Gainesville, Florida. Jim served as a deacon of Fort Lauderdale Baptist Church from 1968 until 1970, Calvary Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale periodically from 1971 until 1983, and Country Side Baptist Church in Gainesville from 1983 until 1987.
Jim moved to Patrick County in 2019 to be close to his daughter, Shelly Stone, where he continues to reside. He built a new house here, lives under his own roof, and is a member of Grace Baptist Church.