Richard Richards was born in July 1916. He grew up on a farm. He graduated high school in 1935. He enlisted in the Army. He thought he should join because he thought they needed more men. He was shipped overseas. His captain was shot. [Annotator’s Note: He was at Fort Benning, Georgia, and he taught scouting.] He was a country boy and they thought he would be good at it. They had four squads of people, each with 60 men. There were no wires connected to the phones. The captain was going to be in charge of the platoon. Now, Richards was in charge of four. He went to each squad leader and told them what would be happening for the night. He was in his hole smoking a cigarette. Then he was crawling out of his hole covered in blood. He had been hit by shrapnel. There were 16 or 17 other men waiting to be taken out who were wounded that night. Richards was told his wounds would kill him. They got him back across the Rhine [Annotator’s Note: Rhine River in Germany] and into several different hospitals. His jawbone was completely gone and the inside of his mouth was completely messed up. 30 days after he was hit he returned to New York.
[Annotator’s Note: Richard Richards listens to the interviewer give the account of him being wounded out of a book.] Richard Richards was wounded in Europe. He left for Europe from New York. He lost three friends in the service. They had good company all the way across. His first time in combat was during the Battle of the Bulge [Annotator's Note: Battle of the Bulge or German Ardennes Counter Offensive, 16 December 1944 to 25 January 1945]. He would hate to go back and do it again. There were two feet of snow on the ground. He had good training. They took cover in a barn and slept with the cows. It was better inside than outside. They ran into people that were grateful to do things for them. He never regretted doing it. The people thought it was great someone was going to help them. Some people had connections in Germany and were not happy to see them. He spent Christmas sleeping out in the open. They had a good Christmas meal.
Richard Richards wrote letters to his wife after the Bulge [Annotator's Note: Battle of the Bulge or German Ardennes Counter Offensive, 16 December 1944 to 25 January 1945]. They ran into people who were nice in Cologne [Annotator’s Note: Cologne, Germany]. One group from the 99th Division went across a bridge and was hit hard. At the time, Richards had a squad. They were given the go ahead to cross the bridge and did not lose anyone. He broke his men up into three groups. They went across the bridge and were looking at a mountain. He thought he should be an example. He had to be able to do what he wanted them to do. He had to be one of the men. His sergeant ran into a machine gun nest. He kept in contact with his sergeant. Richards was just doing his job and he wanted to get it done. He never had disagreements with any of his men. If the men disagreed, he would ask them how to change it.
Richard Richards [Annotator’s Note: fighting in Europe with the 395th Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division] remembers that there were so many replacements that he did not know anything about them. He does not remember anyone getting field fatigue. Richards was 25 or 26 years old at the time. The men respected him because they did not know what they were doing. He was shipped back to New York and then sent to a hospital in Mississippi. He could not talk [Annotator’s Note: Richards's jawbone was gone due to his wounds from combat] and he had to use a notepad to speak. They were not supposed to tell anyone where they were. His sister’s oldest son spent time in the hospital he was in. The nurse got a letter to his wife, who came to see him. He was hospitalized for two years and seven months. The doctor was a young man and his father was a doctor as well. He had a tube going through his nose to his stomach so he could eat. It took a while for him to learn to talk again. It was a job he had to do. He knew what was going to happen in the woods [Annotator’s Note: referring to Europe]. The woods were beautiful. They were planted and the trees were in rows. It was beautiful countryside.
Richard Richards never knew what he was going to be doing until he was in the middle of it. [Annotator's Note: Richards is referring to the Battle of the Bulge or German Ardennes Counter Offensive, 16 December 1944 to 25 January 1945]. They were not in one place for long. It was rough in the snow. They did not have the clothing or the equipment they should have had. They heard some of the clothes headed to the front never left the station they arrived at. Richards does not regret what happened. He had to have a good attitude. He did not expect to make it. The doctors had to put him back together. His jawbone was lost on both sides. He could not talk, but he could write.
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