Garner, N.C. — As North Carolina joins the nation in celebrating Independence Day this week, a Wake County family is honoring their own American patriot.
Ray Dixon, his daughter says, dedicated his life to his country, community and family.
"He loved my mom. They were married 55 years and four days before he passed away," Cynthia Dixon said.
When he died in February, family friend Ray Dunlap discovered that Dixon was injured during the Korean Conflict, but never received a Purple Heart – a commendation for troops injured in combat.
"It was put in for, but the paperwork was lost – maybe in a fire that they had in St. Louis, could have been when it got destroyed at the records department," Dunlap said. "About 80 percent of the military's Army records were destroyed in that fire."
Dunlap, a retired soldier himself, set out to right that wrong. He got the letter the Red Cross sent to Dixon's wife, Janet, informing her that he was in the hospital. That documentation helped Dunlap petition the U.S. Army to award Dixon posthumously.
On Sunday, more than 60 years after Dixon was injured in Korea, his family accepted a Purple Heart in his behalf during a worship service at First Baptist Church in Garner.
"It's just wonderful that he's finally getting recognized for what he did to serve his country," Janet Dixon said.