On the day America honors all United States veterans, San Diego has chosen to give a special tribute to a long-time U.S. Army veteran who also served as a pillar to the Scripps Ranch community before his passing in 2019.
Col. Robert Dingeman -- who served for three wars during his three-decade career before retiring to San Diego to serve his community -- will be immortalized with a street sign near his Scripps Ranch home.
A sign for Col. Robert Dingeman Drive will mark a stretch of Aviary Drive from Red Cedar Drive to Canyon Lake Drive. The honorary designation will pay tribute to the man who not only served his country but served his small neighborhood community as a teacher and avid volunteer.
The tribute touched his 95-year-old widow, Gaye Dingeman, who said she was "pleased as punch" to have the addition close to their home.
"Mr. Scripps Ranch," a Silver Star, Soldier’s Medal, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart recipient, was born in the Philippines on June 12, 1922, to parents Blanche Dingeman and Coast Artillery Cpt. Ray Dingeman, according to Dingeman Elementary School.
Dingman started his military career in Hawaii with the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) and was first called to duty on Dec. 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked by Japan, to serve as the personal bodyguard to Hawaii's governor.
Hawaii is also where he and his wife met. They married soon after and were together for 74 years.
"I didn't know it was the beginning of my life. It was just a date," Gaye Dingeman said. "But, uh huh, he was a good date and a good man, and a wonderful husband and I miss him terribly."
Dingeman later graduated from the West Point military academy and served in tours in the Philippines, South Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.
The Army veteran was proud for his time in the service, and loved celebrating Veterans Day, making the sign dedication Wednesday even more special.
"It's a day that we honor everyone who has served in the military," Gaye Dingeman said. They don't have to be heroes, they just have to have served."
Thirty years later, Dingeman retired and became an instructor at San Diego Miramar College, teaching math, history, and political science for nearly two decades.
He created the Scripps Ranch Civic Association, which went on to represent thousands of households and promote volunteerism throughout the community, according to the group’s website.
The Army veteran also has a Scripps Ranch elementary school named after him. Dingeman Elementary School was founded in 1994 after a vote from the San Diego Unified School Board.
“His leadership and active community involvement was instrumental in transforming Scripps Ranch into a great place to live,” the elementary school said on its website following his passing on.