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The USS Rich DE-695 Memorial Plaque
A lasting tribute honoring the legacy of the USS Rich and her crew.

  
 July, 2005

    A little over a year ago, the 10th annual USS Rich Survivor's Association Reunion was held in Lynchburg, Virginia from June 5th through June 8th, 2004. On June 6th, 2004, the Survivor's and their families and friends attended a special D-Day ceremony held at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the invasion of France by Allied forces during World War II. In a moving ceremony attended by nearly 6,000 people, those who fought and those who died liberating France on June 6th, 1944 were honored and remembered.


View from south of the English Garden

     For many of us in our group, this was our first visit to the D-Day Memorial. One is immediately taken by the beauty of the Memorial, erected on top of a hill overlooking Bedford, a small, lovely town seemingly untouched by the hands of time with the breath-taking Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. With it's impeccably landscaped grounds and strikingly effective statuary and architecture, the D-Day Memorial stands in solemn tribute to all who served during the invasion of France.

     But the mission of the D-Day Memorial is not only to honor those who fought and died on D-Day. It's mission is to educate those who visit the Memorial. Narrative plaques are placed at locations all around the Memorial describing the contributions of various allied units and ships, from the planning stage, to the invasion, to post-invasion operations. On the west wall of the bunkers representing the German fortifications built into the Atlantic wall, United States Navy and Coast Guard  forces are honored.


Necrology plaques


West wall featuring naval plaques in June, 2004

     At the time of our visit, only three naval plaques were in place on the west wall with space available for ten. While reading the currently mounted Navy plaques, one honoring the contribution of the USS Nevada (BB-36), the battleship the USS Rich ran cover for during Operation Neptune, an idea was born that would allow us (the families and friends of the crew) to honor the D-Day role of the USS Rich DE-695, the surviving members of the crew, and the memory of the ninety-two men who made the supreme sacrifice while serving aboard her on June 8th, 1944.

 
    The following day, June 7th, 2004,
we contacted the D-Day Memorial Foundation and were put in touch with Mr. Joe Banner who is an Associate of Special Projects. Mr. Banner invited us back to the Memorial on June 8th where he gave several of us a private tour of the grounds and explained to us how we could underwrite a plaque to hang at the Memorial in honor of the USS Rich. Between the time of our phone conversation on the 7th and our meeting the next day, Mr. Banner had performed considerable research about the USS Rich, an aspect of the D-Day assault with which he was not previously familiar. He was quite pleased and excited about the prospect of having a plaque hang at the Memorial in tribute to the Rich.
 


English garden


The town of Bedford viewed from D-Day Memorial

 
     After returning home from the reunion, we set ourselves to the task of raising the required funds to accomplish our goal. Mr. Banner set up the infrastructure at the D-Day Memorial to handle larger donations sent directly to them on behalf of the USS Rich, and we incorporated a non-profit educational organization called the “USS Rich DE695 Memorial” and opened a bank account in the corporation’s name to accept smaller donations via mail. We then drafted a letter to all family and friends of the USS Rich seeking donations to our cause. In March of 2005, we reached our goal of $15,000, thanks to the generosity of the families and friends of the USS Rich. 
 

     Knowing full well that members of the crew would want to contribute financially to the project, the idea of underwriting the memorial plaque was kept secret from them. They had already made far greater contributions with their service aboard the Rich and we wanted this to be a gift from us, their families and friends.
 

     Immediately after we had secured the required funds, the D-Day Memorial Foundation began work on our plaque. To say that we are pleased with their efforts would be an understatement. The good folks at the D-Day Memorial, Mr. Joe Banner and Dr. William McIntosh in particular, did a wonderful job on the design of the plaque and the textual representation of the USS Rich's role during the Normandy invasion. In just a few paragraphs, they have accurately and vividly portrayed the life and death of the USS Rich and the courage and fidelity of her crew.


Top portion of the USS rich plaque

      On a beautiful Memorial Day, May 30th, 2005, at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, the USS Rich plaque was dedicated during a moving ceremony. The USS Rich was well represented as a number of shipmates, family members, and friends were in attendance. Those present were:


USS Rich crew, families and friends gathered prior to ceremony

Ed Black
Dot Cole
Marie Crawford
Roland and Bertie Freeman
George Fryberger
M. H. and Marie Green
Jim and Doty Gwaltney (USS Bunch)
Roy and Jane Hudson
Roy Hudson, Jr.
Norm Jensen
Frances Livesay
Stan and Judy McMillan (USS Bates)
Tracey Powell
Guy Rich


     During the ceremony, Dr. William A. McIntosh, retired Army colonel and president of the National D-Day Memorial Foundation, dedicated the USS Rich plaque along with a number of other narrative plaques recently installed at the Memorial. The dedicatory prayer was offered by the Hon. Robert W. Goodlatte, United States House of Representatives. In perhaps the most emotional moment of the ceremony, a memorial wreath was placed beneath the Victory Arch honoring all of our fallen service men and women while Brian Farrell of Forest Middle School piped "Amazing Grace" on the bagpipes.
 


Dr. McIntosh dedicates the narrative plaques


USS Rich shipmates interviewed for local news segment

     Following the dedication, Roy Hudson, Sr. and a number of USS Rich shipmates were interviewed and filmed by the local NBC news affiliate, News Channel 7, for a segment about the USS Rich and the narrative plaque. The excellent piece aired during that evening's news.

     In closing, I would like to thank everyone who contributed to our project. We are genuinely grateful for your support and humbled by your generosity. Thanks to you, the legacy of the USS Rich DE-695 and the sacrifices of her crew will be remembered for generations to come.

     I would also like to thank Mr. Joe Banner, Dr. William McIntosh, and all of the wonderful people at the National D-Day Memorial Foundation for providing us with the opportunity to honor the crew of the USS Rich DE-695 in such a wonderful manner, and for the steadfast work they do to honor all who served during the Normandy invasion.

George M. Fryberger
Webmaster

Click here to see a picture of the USS Rich plaque.

Click here to see the USS Rich plaque's placement amongst the other Naval plaques.

For a complete gallery of photographs taken at the dedication, follow this link.

 

 

           

 

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