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  July, 2007

Dear Shipmates, Family & Friends,

     Before I get into all the pleasure and joy of again being among the Shipmates and Friends, let me cover something very important.  You people who continuously support the RICH with your donations each year are especially appreciated.  You know who you are, but I am going to name you anyway... so everyone else will know: Virginia Calabrese, Earl Hanson, Carl Boedecker, William Cunningham, Berman Scott, Benjamin Hicks, Joe Podorski, John Monichetti, and Raymond Joyce... have willingly given of their income so we old codgers can enjoy the USS RICH Reunion in a special way.  And I am going to do my best to tell you about things... so you will think you were there.  The next best thing to telling you about the Reunion... is for you to be there yourself.  Berman Scott did join us at the D-Day Memorial, but was not able to be with us in Lynchburg.  Great to see Berman & Ruth at the Memorial.  Oh yes, Raymond Joyce (and lovely wife, Doris) were with us for the first two days of our Reunion, but had to leave for some reason.  I am teaching Doris to speak southern, but progress is painful for her.  Doris is a plenty smart girl, but I am beginning to understand Ray’s definition of stubborn.  Before I get into my patented process of “how to handle women”, let me tell you about the Reunion... it’s easier.

            June 6th was crystal (bright & breezy).  Sitting atop the green hill(s) of western Virginia is the D-Day Memorial, which has the feeling of “home”.  We have been there several times and are a part of Memorial itself, both historically and physically.  Yes, the lone Destroyer Estcort (USS RICH) still screens for those big battle ships on the Western Wall.  The USS RICH Plaque is easier to read, because it is more eye-level... and it does tell a story.  You have to “look up” to read those battle ship plaques.  Joe Banner, who helped Fryberger and Roy Jr with the plaque for the USS RICH, says that he always mentions the RICH on tours of the D-Day Memorial.  Financing of the plaque is a human-interest story with which everyone can identify.  Jim Gwaltney (USS BUNCH) was at the D-Day memorial enjoying the fresh air, sunshine, and all the recognition received by the RICH.  Good to see you Jim.

             A Story: Mrs Nell Bryant sat beside me for the program at the D-Day Memorial.  She was carefully holding a 9x12 manilla envelope in her arm.  It contained a framed picture of her husband, Staff Sgt West Randolph Bryant... in uniform.  He survived storming the beach at Normandy on June 6, 1944 as part of the US 16th Infantry.   She and Sgt Bryant contributed to the building of the D-Day Memorial, but he died before the Memorial was completed.  She finally brought him there to experience the tranquility and adulation of the Memorial.  You could see the sense of accomplishment in her eyes.  Yes, Mrs. Bryant, congratulations on a job well done.

            On each visit to the D-Day Memorial there are new things to learn.  For instance... names of the US service members killed on D-Day are on plaques along the western wall enclosing the landing plaza (where we sit for the programs).  Along the eastern wall are names of the Allied Forces killed on D-Day.  The names were  randomly selected (by computer) to put on each plaque.  If you want the location of a particular name, it can be found in a register located at the information table on the deck of the gift store.

            Reading the various D-Day Plaques randomly... you learn information not specifically related to D-Day.  One such instance is reading the Richard S. Reynolds, Sr, plaque (large contributor to the D-Day Memorial).  In the late 1930's, Reynolds was in Europe to learn about aluminum production.  He noted that Germany was busily buying up all the aluminum and other metals they could get... from France, in particular.  France was happily selling all it had.  Realizing what was happening, Reynolds returns to America and tries to get the government and US industry interested in increase its aluminum production... for possible wartime need.  No one listened!  So he borrows and invests his family’s fortune in establishing aluminum plants across the US.  Guess who was ready when our aluminum needs hit a maximum for aircraft production in the early 1940s... when the US entered the war.  Were we lucky, or what?

            Back to reality, am losing my concentration.  During the D-Day program (on Wednesday), the story of the USS RICH was specifically mentioned.  “Text was taken straight from the 2nd paragraph of the homepage of the USS RICH Website”, says George (Fryberger).  Of all the ships in the invasion (Battleships, Cruisers, Destroyers, etc.), a narration of the sinking of the USS RICH somehow fit the mood of the day.  I felt like yelling out, “that’s us!”, but I just sat there.  The program ended with “Echo Taps” being played (Chatham High School ROTC) across the landing plaza... where we sat.  Talk about ‘playing with your mind’!  Then Mr. Banner got up and asked all D-Day Veterans to stand along the railing before the audience for recognition.  The TV stations with “bazooka cameras” were everywhere!  Check the photo page for folks you might recognize.  Mr Warren Minton, a Bedford photographer, emailed his pictures of the D-Day Memorial program so we could use them.  Mr Minton was definitely there for us.  Thanks.  George (Fryberger) will use some of Minton’s pictures on our web-page.  Oh yes, George... hope your back is better.  George has done something to his back, and sits around ‘very straight’, when he can sit at all.  Good luck, my man.

            Best of the Best:  Here I am telling you about all the things we did... when the best part of “each day” begins and ends... in the Hospitality Room!  That is where we gather and have fun... while we eat those crackers, cookies, nuts, and frozen fruit that the ladies (Rose, Jane, Cindy & Frances) bring to the gatherings.  At times like these, I do my best to teach “southern speak” to Doris Joyce.  But, am not being that successful.  She does try to pick-up the delicate over-tones and long valves-sounds of our southern ladies.  There is hope... but not much.  Maybe a hearing aid would help, but am not sure. *I’m kidding, Doris.  Honest!*

            Other Stuff:  Am trying to remember... the first night (Tuesday) we went to the Cracker Barrel for dinner.  After the D-Day Memorial service (Wednesday), we tooled over to the ‘Olde Liberty Station Restaurant’ for lunch (in Bedford).  Interesting place with good food.  Railroad memorabilia covered the walls and trains (for real) ran across the window tops... elevated track-bed.  When we tried the same restaurant three years ago, the power was out.  Bummer!  The next day (Thursday) we left about 3PM for an early dinner at the Peaks of Otter Restaurant on the Sky Line Drive.  This “casual lifestyle” I can handle!  We stopped at the Lock Site on the James River (I forget the name).  There is a walk-way under the bridge that allows pedestrians to walk across the James (on the elevated walkway, of course)... to see where the locks and by-pass canal were maintained in the 1800s... to get around shallows and waterfalls in that part of the James River.  A picture on the picture-page records the event. 

            The third day (Friday) of our gathering was for rest and exploring on-your-own.  One carload went to Appomattox... you know... where those Yankees stopped their fighting.  Doris Holler’s son (Russ) and daughter-in-law (Donita) took Guy and George along.  It was good of Doris to come all the way from Oklahoma to visit with us.  Way to go Doris.  This was the first time east of the Mississippi for Russ & Donita.  Back to Appomattox... which is like many other towns of the 1800's.  When the railroad was put through, the town slowly migrated to the railroad (some four miles away).  Originally, Appomattox was a stage coach stop (called Clover Hill) between Richmond and Lynchburg.  After the Civil War, Appomattox fell into disrepair, as the courthouse burned and was rebuilt at the thriving little settlement by the railroad, eventually called the Appomattox of today.

            Banquet-night happened right there at the Ramada Inn.  It could not have been better or more convenient, as the night was dark and stormy!  Everybody ordered what they wanted, and we had our own private waitress.  We were treated like royalty.  Stacy was always our waitress, except on Friday (probably her day off).  On Friday morning Stacy’s friend, Debbie, took care of us... and that night at the Banquet, Jamie Lynn (Stacy’s niece) served the food and was our entertainment.  She was good.  Stacy was back to give us our “good-bye” hug on Saturday morning.  Glad I got the waitress situation straightened out for you.  Bet you are wondering why I enjoyed this Reunion so much.   

            You can’t find a picture of the USS RICH, huh?  Bob (Hudson) found the next best thing... an artist rendering of the DE-695 for $35.00... on EBAY.  Better still, google Ian Hall MBE on the Internet and click on the first listing.  This will give you all the information needed to get your copy (framed) of the USS RICH (DE-695).  That Bob (Hudson) is a clever fellow, resourceful too.  We really appreciate his taking time from a busy schedule to chauffeur us around.  If you are wondering what “MBE” stands for... “Member of the order of the British Empire”, which was presented to Ian Hall by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on 12 of August 1972.  Sorry to hit you shipmates with Internet information.  It is just so easy.  Educational too.

            Shipmate News: - Doug Joyner (brother of shipmate, J H Joyner) passed away almost two years ago (21 Dec 2005).  His wife (Edna) called to let me know.  Says she never saw any mentioned of his passing in any Newsletter.  Thanks Edna.  It was an oversight, and we definitely appreciate all the information provided by Doug about James, his brother and our shipmate.

- Charlie & Helen Black are still struggling.  Charlie has stabilized at 125 pounds and his hair has disappeared... in his struggle with lung cancer.  Helen is in some stage of Alzheimer’s, but she is able to live at home with the help of a housekeeper.  I wish them the best.

- Ed Black is “spreading the wealth”.  He has financed (and landscaped) a bench at the VFW Park (in Carthage) in memory of the USS RICH.  His fire-truck and limousine have been donated to the Transportation Museum in Spencer, NC.  

- A good time was had “by all” at the 2007 Reunion here in Lynchburg.  Be sure and join us next year... if you can.  We don’t know “where”, but we do know “when” (6-8 June, as always).  We will let you know “where” in a future letter.

- Ray & Doris Joyce (USS BUNCH) are going to China this year.  Doris wants to “walk that wall”.  I “think” that’s what she said.  Maybe it was to have “Ray walk that wall”.  She doesn’t speak southern, so it is hard to tell.

- Ms Rose Marie Johnson most noticeably enjoyed the events of the Reunion.  I think she had too much fun telling me what to do, what to say, what to wear... some women are like that, you know.  Hope she doesn’t read this... she might get ideas.  I did enjoy the time we shared.  Oh yes... she met a man (at the D-Day Memorial) who was in the same outfit as her husband.  They parachuted together over the Rhine River into Germany.  Small world, isn’t it?

- We missed everyone, who was not at the Reunion.  Let’s change that next year.  Besides, this Reunion has become a family affair.  There are more family members coming than us old codgers.  Our fun is watching all these young people have fun.  So keep that in mind.

- Roy & Jane Hudson are to be thanked especially for doing such a good job this year, even though both are under a Doctor’s care.  Thanks Roy, thanks Jane.  You are really an asset to us RICH Survivors.  We can’t thank you enough.

            Almost forgot Thibaut’s email, which will be enclosed.  It is always good to hear from him.  I give him a hard time about the easy life in the French Navy.  He likes the wire-brushing.  Anyway, you remember “Thunderbolt”.  We enjoy staying in touch.  

            It saddens me to bring this letter to a close.  Remembering things to tell you... always brings back many good memories.  I have tried to describe happenings so you can think you were there.  Hope so, anyway.  The picture page is still in the planning stage, but I’ll tell you about each picture selected.  Make it into a “story in pictures”.  This year I am learning to use a new digital camera.  It is different, but I’m getting there.  There will be a USS RICH Newsletter this fall.  Maybe by then my pictures will be good enough to show people.  My purpose is to keep you updated on us survivors.  Should you have any news, just give me a call.

            Until we meet, I bid you an affectionate farewell.
 

 
M. H. Green
Guy Rich - Frances Livesay

            
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