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For Sonarman on USS Rich, Judgment Day Came June 8
By Zane Wilson, reprinted from The Sun News, Sunday, June 5, 1994



Arthur Daniel Schmocker
SOM 3/c, USN
(Norfolk, VA, 1942)


    The war ended for most of the crew of the Destroyer Escort USS Rich when it hit three mines and blew up on June 8, two days after D-Day.

    Sonarman Second Class Dan Schmocker was on the flying bridge and was blasted airborne.
"When I went up in the air, I remember seeing other guys up in the air," he said. "I was just spinning." 

    Of the 213 men aboard ship that day, 91 were lost.

    This week, some of the survivors will gather for a reunion at the Days Inn in Surfside Beach, remembering D-Day and World War II as the rest of the world watches events at Normandy.

    On D-Day and the day after, the Rich was off Omaha Beach assisting the battleship USS Nevada and firing its own guns shore-ward.

    On June 8, Schmocker, now 72, was giving orders for depth charge placement when his ship was hit. One of his buddies, on the deck below, was blown up to the flying bridge.

    Schmocker was tossed about 50 feet to the torpedo deck and saved from certain death on the steel deck by first hitting the lifeline, a structure similar to a fence, around the decks.

    When the blast came, It blew off his strapped helmet, his earphones, his shoes and socks and his girlfriend's class ring.

    Both of his legs were broken, and he remembers sitting up on his elbows, unable to move, watching the ship start to go down.

    "I was taken off by a PT boat" as the decks began to wash over, Schmocker said. He was first taken to a tent hospital somewhere in England.

    "It was like 'M.A.S.H."', he said.

    He was put in a body cast and sent to another hospital in England, which specialized in broken legs. It was full of paratroopers who had suffered broken legs during the invasion.

    After three months, he was sent to a Navy hospital in St. Albans, N.Y. In all, he was in hospitals for 23 months. One leg is still shorter than the other, and his knees give him trouble.

    He married the girl whose class ring was lost. They grew up next door to each other.

    Dan and Jean Schmocker have been married 47 years.

    Schmocker said no Destroyer Escorts are left, except one recently bought in Greece and returned to the United States to be refurbished for a ship museum.

    He said 46 people, including spouses, expect to attend the reunion.

    Schmocker said his shipmates don't regret what they did 50 years ago.

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