SPECIALIST ANTHONY J. DIXON was killed in action while serving in Iraq on August 1, 2004.
|Camden Courier-Post - August 2, 2004|
Breaking News...Lindenwold Soldier Killed I Iraq
LINDENWOLD - A borough man was one of two soldiers killed in Iraq on Sunday when an explosive device detonated near their guard post in the town of Samarra.
Specialist Anthony J. Dixon, 20, of White Horse Pike was assigned to the Army's 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 1st Infantry Division, according to the Department of Defense. Dixon's unit is based in Schweinfurt, Germany.
The other soldier killed was identified as Spc. Armando Hernandez, 22, of Hesperia, Calif..
|Camden Courier-Post - August 2, 2004|
Lindenwold Man Killed by Bomb in Iraq
By Jason Laughlin
Anthony Dixon's family is in denial - and they know it.
"It's still a dream," said the Army specialist's sister Mary Dixon, 24, almost cheerfully.
"It's still a big state of denial," added older sister Celesta Silvera, 36.
Dixon, two years out of high school, three months from marriage and nine months too young for a legal drink, died Sunday when a bomb exploded near his guardpost in Samarra, Iraq, Army officials said. Another soldier, Spc. Armando Hernandez, 22, a Californian, died with him. They were the 910th and 911th soldiers killed in the Iraq war, the family said.
The fact that he won't come home hasn't sunk in, the family acknowledged.
"We just knew he was coming home," Mary Dixon said.
When they spoke, it was upbeat. They greeted the numerous people who came to their home on White Horse Avenue on Monday night with firm handshakes, even a joke or two. They laughed easily.
"We're proud of him, so we're not grieving," Silvera said.
"He's a hero," older brother Alexander Dixon Jr. added.
Silvera asserted repeatedly, "He died doing what he wanted to do and where he wanted to be."
The last time they saw Dixon, 20, it was Christmas and he was looking forward to going to Iraq. He believed in the mission and the cause, he told them. He was ready for the challenge.
He was always ready for a challenge, the family said. When he was a teenager his niece Christina Dixon, 19, doubted his assertion that he could climb a cell tower behind his parents' home. Shortly after, he yelled down to her from the top of the tower, several hundred feet high, "I made it!"
The Army was good for him, the family said. It tempered his wild and crazy spirit with discipline. Dixon himself knew he was directionless when he graduated from Overbrook Senior Regional High School, where he was a standout wrestler. He and one of his best friends, Adam Froehlich, of Pine Hill, enlisted in the Army together. Both were sent to Iraq, though they served in different units. And now both have died there. Froehlich was killed in March in an explosion in Baqubah. He was 21.
But the military didn't completely tame Dixon. While serving in Schweinfurt, Germany, Dixon's favorite pastime was driving rented BMWs on the Autobahn.
"He loved fast cars," Alexander Dixon Jr. said, laughing as he pointed out his brother's distinctively unsporty Honda Civic parked in the family garage.
In Germany, Dixon met the woman he hoped to marry, Deniz Icol, a Turkish woman. The two hoped to marry in October. When he left the service, Dixon hoped to work as a Secret Service agent or a police officer like his older brother, an officer in Essex County.
After being assigned to Iraq with the Army's 1st Squadron, 4th Cavalry, 1st Infantry Division in February, Dixon frequently e-mailed his family. He wrote them about the bombings in Iraq. He wrote often about the lives of the Iraqis, and their poverty.
Dixon was the youngest of five children. As the family listed their ages and described Dixon as the baby, Alexander Dixon Jr. said to his sister Mary, "Now you're the baby."
Brother and sister hugged, and for a brief moment they tried to shake off quickly, both were wracked with tears.
|Camden Courier-Post - August 4, 2004|
Lindenwold soldier's body on way home
The body of a Lindenwold man killed in Iraq is likely to be returned to the United States this week, family said.
Specialist Anthony Dixon, called Joseph, his middle name, by family, died Sunday when a bomb exploded near his guard post in Iraq. An Army representative told the family that the 20-year-old soldier's body would likely be in Dover, Del., as early as today. After an autopsy, the family will make funeral arrangements, they said.
Dixon's family saved the numerous e-mail messages he sent them from Iraq. They were generally brief, written in the abbreviated grammar and spelling typical of Internet writing.
"how are u all? im good . . ." Dixon wrote in June to his mother, Jackie Dixon. "i cant wait to see my new niece!"
Dixon's parents are both ministers who run a small, nondenominational church out of their home.
Later in the same e-mail, he wrote, "ive been changin, mom! people say they can see the diff. in me!"
In previous interviews, Dixon's family said they too had seen the changes the Army brought to him. Most obviously, he became muscular and chiseled. But the changes went deeper. He developed more responsibility and discipline, they said.
Dixon's family feels like they are now grieving over the loss of two sons. Dixon's best friend, Adam Froehlich, died in Iraq in March.
"They were friends since high school, from ninth grade on," said Dixon's sister Mary. "If you saw Joe, you saw Adam. If you saw one, you saw the other."
Both men were on Overbrook Regional Senior High School's wrestling team and both graduated two years ago. During high school, they loved going to the Atco Raceway to watch the drag races. Both loved fast cars, Mary Dixon said. The young men enlisted in the military together two years ago, and were reunited when both were posted in Germany before the war.
They were stationed two hours away from each other in Germany, and they frequently rented cars on weekends and toured Germany together. Froehlich's family and Overbrook staff members were not available for comment.
"Adam was always over at my house," Mary Dixon said. "He was a part of the family. I loved him like my own brother."
Though Dixon's family didn't know specifically where he was stationed, the soldier's e-mail hints he was close to the action. And they were filled with the incongruities created by war. Personal news fit side-by-side with references to an uncertain war zone.
"did u hear about the bomb?? yeah i was right there . . . it was crazy . . . . . . . . . . so much death . . . . . well i love u be safe . . . joe.".
Courier-Post - August 4, 2004
Region Mourns Death of Spc. Anthony Dixon
Army Spc. Anthony Dixon loved a challenge. After graduating from Overbrook Senior Regional High School in Pine Hill, the Lindenwold man joined the Army and traveled abroad as a soldier. Duty took him into the Iraqi War zone. The 20-year-old was serving honorably in the name of all Americans when a bomb exploded near his guard post in Samarra, Iraq, and killed him and another soldier, Spc. Armando Hernandez, 22, from California.
In a flash, his plans to marry a Turkish woman he had met in Germany and of one day following his older brother into law enforcement were gone. But Dixon remains alive in the hearts of his loved ones, who, even in the midst of grieving, couldn't help smiling as they remembered a high-spirited young man who loved fast-cars and once climbed a cell tower on a dare.
The South Jersey community joins the Dixon's family in grieving his passing. It is never easy to lay to rest such a young soul. But his sacrifice will never be forgotten, not by his family nor his nation. Nor, perhaps, the Iraqis whom he often wrote about in his frequent e-mails to family members. He believed in his mission to bring the Iraqis peace. He gave that mission his all.
Dixon, like the 918 other military men and women who have died in Iraq - including his high school friend Adam Froehlich of Pine Hill on March 25 - have earned our lasting gratitude.
Besides Dixon and Froehlich, five other men with close ties to Camden, Burlington and Gloucester counties have died in Iraq or Afghanistan. They are Marine Sgt. Brian McGinnis, 23, who grew up in Pitman, on March 30, 2003; Army Staff Sgt. Terry W. Hemingway, 39, formerly of Willingboro on April 10, 2003; Army Spc. Ryan Travis Baker, 24, of Browns Mills in Pemberton Township on Nov. 15; Army Spc. Philip I. Spakosky, 25, of Browns Mills in Pemberton Township, a high school classmate of Baker, on May 14; and Navy Seal David M. Tapper, 32, a native of Waterford, in Afghanistan on Aug. 20.
As the community mourns Dixon, we also remember these men. In these uncertain times as the Iraq War rages on, there is one thing that is unshakable: That Dixon and the six other South Jersey men who have lost their lives died as heroes.
Camden Courier-Post - August 6, 2004
Camden Courier-Post - August 8, 2004
A Hero Mourned
By ERIK SCHWARTZ
Army Spec. Anthony Joseph Dixon gave his mother one instruction if he met his "demise" in Iraq.
That's exactly what Dixon's family and friends did Saturday afternoon at Lindenwold High School in a tearful yet jubilant funeral filled with rousing songs and soaring praise. Cries of "Hallelujah!" and "Thank you, Lord!" punctuated a minute-long standing ovation honoring Dixon, 20, a borough resident who was killed by a bomb last Sunday in Samarra, Iraq. And that was just the beginning.
"He was not only a hero for our country. He was a hero for God," Pastor Rebecca Purifory, Dixon's grandmother, told the crowd of more than 200 people.
Christian ministry runs in the family. Dixon's parents, Jackie and Alexander, lead a nondenominational church based in their White Horse Road home. An uncle, the Rev. Dr. Marcellus L. Harris Jr. gave the eulogy, pointing out how far his nephew, often called Joe or Joseph, had traveled, geographically and psychologically, to experience the dawning of his manhood.
"You're not destined to be a child. You're destined to be an adult. Joe didn't get but 20 years, but look how he goes out. What Joe was doing . . . he was becoming a man. He spoke like a child . . . he was precocious. Joe never thought that he was a boy. He was an old man with a young boy's chronological entrapment . . . He got tired of proving to everybody he was a man. He decided to be a man."
Harris said it was "an adult decision to go" into the Army, knowing that he would likely see action in Iraq. But once enlisted, "he wasn't just a soldier. He was a good soldier. Can I get a witness?"
Family and friends who spoke at the service recalled Dixon, a 2002 graduate of Overbrook Regional High School, as a funny, personable, energetic person.
"I regret not talking to him enough or e-mailing him enough while he was overseas," said niece Christina Dixon. "I loved my uncle and I miss him."
Alexander Dixon Jr. felt moved to sing for his younger brother. "Did you ever know that you're my hero?" he sang, from the Bette Midler hit "The Wind Beneath My Wings."
"Joe, we love you," he said. "We love you."
Jay Sirles told a story that has come to embody the youth, perseverance and friendship shared by Dixon and Adam Froehlich, a classmate from Pine Hill and another recent Iraq war casualty.
It's a simple tale: One day, sitting in Sirles' house, Dixon and Froehlich decided to drive to Florida. The good friends left almost immediately, with little money, food or forethought. In the eulogy, Harris drew laughter when he noted that the trip carried the pair to his house in Virginia, where he supplied needed food and shelter. They struggled, but in a few days made it to Daytona Beach, concluding it was the best thing they'd ever done. Soon Dixon and Froehlich would enlist in the Army together.
Sirles described Dixon as an avid thrill-seeker. "That's the reason I think he joined the Army," he said. "There were no more adventures here."
"I think destiny has its course," Cilio Roman, 21, of Lindenwold, a friend and classmate of both Dixon and Froehlich, said afterward. "What was meant to be was meant to be. They're up there having a good time, you know."
Lindenwold Mayor Frank A. DeLucca Jr. praised the Dixon family as "a true inspiration for me, and our whole town, in the way they've handled this."
DeLucca asked the audience what sense could be made of children dying before their parents. He answered himself: "We just got to pray about it and figure it out."
IF YOU GO: Burial will be 11 a.m. Monday at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery, Wrightstown. Memorial contributions may be made to the Marantha Christian Mission Church, 63 White Horse Ave., Lindenwold 08021, for a foundation to be set up for the Anthony Dixon Recreation Center.
Camden Courier-Post - August 8, 2004
Jackie Dixon, the mother of Army Spec. Anthony Joseph Dixon, is overcome with emotion at his funeral Saturday at Lindenwold High School. Dixon was killed by a bomb last Sunday in Samarra, Iraq.
Photo by PARIS L. GRAY
Camden Courier-Post - August 8, 2004
stand beside the casket of
Camden Courier-Post - August 10, 2004
At Cemetery, Final Salute to Fallen Soldier and Hero
Friends and family said farewell Monday to Army Spec. Anthony Joseph Dixon.
Dixon, whose family lives in Lindenwold, died Aug. 1 when a bomb exploded near his guard post in Samarra, Iraq, Defense Department officials said.
Dixon - who was assigned to the Army's 1st Squadron based in Germany - was laid to rest Monday at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery.
Gov. James E. McGreevey ordered all state and U.S. flags flown at half-staff Monday.
"Specialist Dixon and his family have made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation and our freedom," McGreevey said. "We honor his memory by flying the national and state flags at half-staff. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family."
Memorial contributions may be made to the Marantha Christian Mission Church, 63 White Horse Ave., Lindenwold 08021. Proceeds will help start a foundation for what will become the Anthony Dixon Recreation Center.
Mary Rinehart (left) says goodbye Monday to her brother, Army Spc. Anthony Joseph Dixon (top photo), during his burial at Brig. Gen. William C. Doyle Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Arneytown. Her parents, Jacquelyn and Alexander Dixon, are next to her. Dixon's casket (below) is carried from the hearse. Dixon, a Lindenwold resident, was killed by a tomb In Iraq on August 1. Gov. James E. Mcdreevey ordered all state and U.S. flags flown at half-staff Monday.
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