Major James Richards Jr. thought his 22-year Army career was finished when he retired in 1993.
But when the military called, the 60-year-old volunteered for another tour of duty and deployed to Iraq.
Richards, a married father of five with several grandchildren, deployed to Iraq two months ago to become the headquarters company commander for the Fort Bragg-based 44th Medical Command.
“As corny as it may sound ... I wanted to serve the country again, and I felt like I was still mentally and physically in good enough shape to do that,” Richards said in a telephone interview from Iraq.
Richards, of Huntsville, Alabama, started his military career during the Vietnam War and retired at age 45. But when the Army started a program about four years ago to welcome back volunteer retirees in good enough shape to return to active duty, Richards offered to return.
Last fall, the Army called.
Richards took a leave of absence from his job as a contractor for the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. He deployed to Iraq on Sept. 7.
“I can honestly say that every day since I’ve come back on active duty, I’ve been excited about being able to put on a uniform again,” he said.
Back home in Alabama, his wife, Angela, said her husband seemed like he needed a new challenge and embraced his latest mission. They have five daughters, a couple of grandsons and four granddaughters. “I am concerned, of course. We are both mature adults and realize things can happen. Things can happen in your house. I just pray for his safety and all the soldiers.”
You know, with so much bad press about the military and the war and whether or not our country supports the war, I am so proud to read this story about Major Richards! What a brave American. What an American hero!
Happy Veteran’s Day to all veterans and active duty personnel. May God bless you with wisdom and safety.