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My Memories of the USS Rich DE695
Charles A. Black



    My navy career started on June 2, 1943 when I was inducted at Raleigh, NC. After boot training at Bainbridge Maryland (Company 4295), I reported to Norfolk, Virginia for D. E. school. The school was completed and I was assigned to the crew of the USS Rich, DE 695. This Destroyer Escort was commissioned at New Orleans, Louisiana, October 1, 1943. Our "shakedown" cruise was to Bermuda during which I was seasick continually.

    The USS Rich sailed for the United Kingdom on the 14th of May, 1944. This was our usual convoy run, docking In Londonderry, Ireland, on June 4, 1944. The USS Rich diverted from the convoy group to participate in the invasion of France on D-Day, sailing to Plymouth, England, and grouping with the Invasion convoy. USS Rich became the Battleship Nevada's protection ship.

    I remember June 6, 1944 at 6:40 AM as "all hell broke loose." The first shots were fired and exploded fuel dumps on shore. I remember being extremely frightened. Two days later I was out of the war.

    I was a radio-man and my battle station was a "talker" on a 20mm gun which was located on the upper bridge. In the first explosion, I saw the stern of the Rich float away. The second explosion occurred midship and I went port side to check on my cousin Ed Black who was unconscious and injured. The third explosion occurred on the bow. My last memories, I was standing in 20mm and 3-inch ammunition up to my knees. This ammunition had been thrown out of the magazine racks at the time of the explosion.

    On the following day I regained consciousness lying on the deck of a LST with the rest of the dead and wounded. I had no feeling from the waist down and was sure I had lost my legs - afraid to look beneath the blankets covering me. I sustained a fractured vertebrae, wrist and ankle, and a severe, deep laceration of the forehead. I was experiencing severe pain but after several injections of pain medication I felt like I could resume fighting. Captain Michel was lying by me, and he said he was sure both of his legs were broken.

    I was taken to a temporary army hospital in France or England (memory not certain). I was transferred to a Navy base in Scotland and then to St. Albans Navy Hospital in New York. This was August, 1944. I was promoted to RM/3C thanks to Captain Michel.

    In April of 1945, I was transferred to the US Naval Hospital In Charleston, SC, and was medically discharged. Taking advantage of the GI Bill, I went to Electrical School in Chicago, Illinois, and became an electrical engineer and was employed by AT&T in Chicago in 1948. In 1953, I was able to transfer to Greensboro, North Carolina. After 39 years of service AT&T in communications and administration, I retired in 1986.

    Helen and I enjoy retirement, traveling, playing some golf and enjoying our home and yard. I hope to see everybody at the reunion in 1996.

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