Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Happy Veteran's Day

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.


  1. Thanks, Steve. It was an honor and priveledge to serve (9.5yrs, USN-R) as a combat communications specialist in the Navy. Three dates stick out in my mind:

    April 15, 1986 - I had been in the Reserves for less than a year, and we bombed Libya (ref)

    Aug 17, 1990 - First time (of many) put on alert for probably deployment. Saddam Hussein said if we did not get our embassy personnel out of the Kuwait Embassy, he'd come in and take them out.

    Feb 26, 1996 - End of First Gulf War, just 100hrs after ground campaign started. I learned later that I had orders in the works to report on March 4th, just 6 days later, to go run a comm van for a Seal team. Had the war not ended when it did, I'd have been gone for a year.

    I was on the "fast track" up the ranks, too, and I was shift supervisor (Tech Control) for our van, but a car accident in 1993 and the resulting cervical fusion surgery in 1994 ended my military career as a Radioman 2nd Class Petty Officer, otherwise I probably would have been a "lifer."

    I've been to Scotland twice (Glasgow and Prestwick), Norway (Andoya, 200 mi north of the Arctic Circle), Italy (Vicenza, 1hr west of Venice), and Korea (Seoul) as part of my service. My van was actually there at the Marine Corps barracks in Beruit when it was bombed and has a heat-blast ripple in the aluminum shell - the visible reminder to our mission. I've got a LOT of other stories on that front, too (hmmm, note to self for future blog topics).

    But nothing makes me more proud than knowing that folks like you, truly appreciate what me and my commrades-in-arms have contributed in the service of our country over the past 232 years we've been a country. Thanks.

  2. Will...thanks for telling your story...but, more importantly, thanks for your service...in my book, you join the hero ranks! Even though I know you wouldn't consider yourself a hero...let us thank you anyway!

  3. Will: Thank you!

    My grandfathers served. One was a fighter pilot in WWII. Another was an airplane mechanic. My uncles served -- one Army, other Navy. My brother served -- Navy. My cousin served and gave the ultimate sacrifice -- Army. My other cousin is in the Coast Guard. My soon to be brother-in-law is a Marine.

    They are heroes of the finest degree.

    I heart them all!

    heidi reed


Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I can't wait to read what you have written.