The Norman Transcript

Columns

October 31, 2013

Korean War veteran kept his promise

NORMAN — Robert E. L. Richardson was born on a farm in western Oklahoma in 1932. He graduated from Weatherford High School in 1950. Bob promised his mother that he would go to college, but it took him a while to get there.

He joined the National Guard while he was in high school. Shortly after he graduated, he was called up to active duty in the Army during the Korean War. After completing Basic Training at Ft. Riley, Kan., he was assigned to Leadership School.

After Leadership School, he was assigned to train new recruits at Ft. Riley; he was a drill instructor at age 18. He realized after training two classes of recruits that he would essentially be doing basic training over and over because, after all, the Instructor still had to do all the exercises, the marches, the hikes and so forth with his trainees.

So, he wrote a personal letter to the commanding general of the 45th Infantry Division asking if he could be transferred to the Guard. Within 10 days, orders came through transferring him to Battery C, 158th Field Artillery. He took three days leave and reported to Camp Polk, La., just in time to move out to Japan for additional training and then to Korea.

During his deployment, Bob shared a tent with two young men from Sayre who always thought he had been planted there as an Army Criminal Investigation Division “spy” because of the unexpected way he arrived. He said they probably still think that to this day.

His unit eventually made it to Inchon, Korea, in November 1951 and was moved up to near the 38th parallel.

Bob was placed in charge of defense of an artillery battery of six .50-caliber machine guns. The battery was 2,000 yards behind the front line. The protection included stringing barbed wire around the site and sometimes using flares.

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