Tribute to a veteran: Robert Earl Richardson


From Robert Earl Richardson’s June 30, 1987 obit in the Detroit Tribune:

   A three-page US Navy public relations report of the [sniper] incident written when Richardson returned to Royal Oak on convalescent leave reported that the then-father of one [yours truly] was wounded while treating a Marine.
   “The little Marine came running up with his Tommy gun. Suddenly he threw his arms up in the air and fell to the ground…blood gushing from his chest but he wasn’t dead.”
   Richardson, after treating an injured officer, was running to aid the Marine when he was struck by the bullet.
   “I was knocked cold and thought I had been hit with a rifle butt. That is until I saw the two bullet holes in my helmet and blood pouring down my face.”
   After that time with more than four years in the Navy-Marines, Richardson, who fought on both islands, said he would prefer three years of Guadalcanal to three hours of Tarawa.
   “Guadalcanal was a picnic compared to Tarawa,” he wrote.
   I was three years old when my father was wounded. My earliest memory of him was his return to Michigan during the convalescent leave mentioned in the obit. I had been told that he had been wounded and had a silver plate in his head, which did not make much sense in my three-year-old mind.
   Bob, which is how I knew him, picked me up, took me out to his car and opened the trunk. There lay his helmet with those two bullet holes, a souvenir of the battle of Tarawa, one of the bloodiest South-Pacific landings in the war.

[Not his actual helmet]

   I’ve pondered how that early experience may have contributed to my strong, lifelong anti-war beliefs.

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