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  December, 2004

Dear Shipmates, Family & Friends,

   Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the USS RICH survivors and to our many, many friends... who have supported us through the years.  May much promise and happiness visit your hearth and home in these... our golden years.  We have all worked hard for what we have, and with good health... we have happiness.  For those who have experienced problems, may the new year bring improvements so that you can enjoy the bounties of this land.  In the past year I have kept in touch (by phone) with

B. M. Scott
Paul Frazier
Bennie Hicks
Bob Darrah
Frank Doody
Roland Freeman
M. H. Green
(& Marie, who has health problems)
Bill Cunningham
(called during hurricanes, tornadoes... he is fine)
Virginia
& Bill Shure.

To the rest that I talked with, I apologize.  Memory is the second thing to go, you know.  Oh yes, Cousin Charlie’s (Black) back still hurts from the unforgettable experiences of 1944.  His wife, Helen, is having health problems also.  Hope things improve, Charlie.

Enough of this sickness and poor health!  Year 2004 was “fantastic”, especially for me and Charlie. We went to France... on their ticket, and I have talked about it every since.  Imagine that, me talking!

Ship Reunions:

   August 29th through September 3rd the USS BUNCH (DE-694) had their Reunion in Gathersbury MD.  Guess who delivered the Banquet address telling them about the fine French food and friendly people we met in France... Moi.  Man, I waxed eloquent.  Just ask Dot (Cole), George Fryberger,or Guy (Rich) and Frances (Livesay), who were there.  Dave Hibbs & Janice (Wherley) really know how to put on a top-notch Reunion.  A Navy Yard and Navy Museum tour was planned; most interesting and historical.  We arrived at the Navy Memorial in downtown DC in time for a wreath laying ceremony.  Both Dave and I spoke, and a wreath with a USS BUNCH & a USS RICH streamer was displayed before THE LONE SAILOR.  The wreath honored the departed shipmates of both ships.  Very touching and well done.

   September 15th through September 19th Dot & I attended the Renion of the USS BULL, USS BATES, and USS AMESBURY in Norfolk VA.  As you know, Stan McMillan of the BULL and BATES, is working to get all the sister ships in our squadron to come together for their Reunion.  It’s a matter of numbers (38 attendees this Reunion, not bad).  As we age and lose shipmates, we lose bargaining power for places to meet.  HART TOURS of Albany NY planned everything for Stan.  Nice, but cost a few more coins... you pay for what you get.  Can’t take it with you, you know... for which your children and grand children are eternally grateful.  Back to the Reunion.  During the Memorial services on the Battleship, USS WISCONSIN, I dropped a wreath overboard for all my shipmates, and Dot tossed roses over for all deceased from all six ships in the squadron.  Later I delivered the banquet address.  Told’em about our (me & Charlie) latest trek across the “pond” to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion with our French friends, at their expense of course. *have already mentioned that, right?*  Best way to go.  Fact is, the only way.  I also managed to sneak in the salient parts of our story (RICH sinking).  Yes, Stan (& Judy) did a fine job in providing a time-and-place for those left of our squadron to meet... and in keeping the memories alive.  Well done!

October 13th  through October 17th Charlie “T” and wife, Cecelia, held the USS BLESSMAN (DE-69/ADP 48) Reunion at Daytona Beach FL.  He invites all DE sailors to come. 

More Talks:

- November 11, 2004: the American Legion, VFW, and town officials of Troy NC, put on a Veteran’s Day Parade.  I gave a talk on the trip to France with the RICH sinking as part of the talk. 

- Lowes Charlotte Motor Speedway, gave a talk to the 1948 graduating class (Concord NC).  They were also called the “Senior Group”.   

- Spoke to the Veterans Group at Wingate College, Wingate NC.  Same story, different audience.  

- Have given several talks to various Garden Clubs.  Forgive me for not remembering all these places, but I have enough trouble remembering what to say.   

International Publication:

-The American Society of the French Legion of Honor has my account of our (Charlie & me) visit.  It is the same one in the last Newsletter.  If you want to read it, go to the USS RICH Website, click on <New>, and trip to France... which is in the “Aug-8-2004" entry.  George (Fryberger) really, really does us proud with his excellent work on the USS RICH Website.  While you are there, click on some of the Newsletters.  See how good George tells “our” story.  Pretty pictures too.  Ok, Ok, if you don’t know how to get to the website, have your grandson (or granddaughter) to show you.  It will be a good experience for them to read about GrandPa on the Internet... to see how they are connected to history.  It will do them proud.  You see, all kids don’t have their grandpa on the Internet.

One Book for Two:

   As you know, we are combining the two volumes of “The Last Voyage of the USS RICH” into one book under hard cover.  This combines the history in one volume and keeps the story together.  Edmond (Locklear),  our publisher and guest speaker at the Myrtle Beach Reunion, tells me that the printing has started.  Stay tuned. 

Taps:                                                                   

Robert “Bob” Alumni

William “Bill” Medlin

C. V. Ross

“Lew” Watts 

“Bob”, Bill”, & “Lew” were covered in previous Newsletters.  I sent cards of sympathy from the USS RICH crew to each family.  Paul Frazier was a pall bearer for LCMD Ross and sends his obituary.  The last Reunion LT Ross attended (he was LT Ross on the RICH) was in Frankenmouth.  At a tender young age, LT Ross did a good job of keeping us teenager sailors in line.  That he did.  RIP LT. 

  Lacy Black, my oldest brother (94), has been in the hospital for several weeks.  All life-support systems have now been removed.  God speed, Lacy

Tidbits:

The “Destroyer Escort Historical Museum” for third quarter 2004 has an excellent article by our friend, Victor Buck, that is practically a day-by-day history of the DE contribution to the war January through June 1944... with each DE location and its purpose.  His description of the USS Rich and her demise is historic and descriptive.  Vic also has a very good book, NORTHERN LIGHTS, in print. 

   Carl & Myrtle (Boedecker) have moved into an apartment.  “Tired of yard work and snow removal; otherwise well, but old”. (The Bodeckers, 4929 Whitcomb Drive, #5, Madison WI 53711.    

    Chief Holler has conquered the Rhine, again!  He and Doris took a 10 day cruise from Basil, Switzerland to Antwerp, Belgium... down the Rhine River.  “Cathedrals were beautiful, old buildings were interesting, and the service aboard ship was wonderful” , says Doris.  “If this is “life on board”, no wonder you guys love the Navy”.  Doris & Chief have moved their membership to the new Indian Mission Church in Bartlesville, but they are still Baptist.  

   “Thunderbolt” (LT Thibaut del Giudice) sends his best to everyone.  His recent deployment is over , and he is home... spending some much needed vacation time with his parents.  He wonders if M. H. (Green) is still in the soothsaying business? 

   On 8 June 1944 Doctor John Monahan was the 27 year old medical Doc on LST-57.  He saw the USS RICH go down, and treated many of the survivors.  Dot & I have talked with him on the phone.  He can be contacted at 12 Evergreen Trail, Milton MA 02186 or through his son at freezegother2004@yahoo.com

   Fact or Fiction: Some years ago a rumor was heard that a Destroyer Escort was seen lying (in pieces) upon Utah Beach.  Would it have been the USS RICH (DE-695)?  I have mentioned this possibility to several and the collective opinion is doubtful.  On November 5th of this year, I spoke at the VFW & American Legion at Troy NC.  Afterwards, a gentleman came over and said that he was on a small boat (as a Boatswain’s Mate) that went in to Utah Beach.  He saw a DE lying on the beach in three pieces.  This conversation  has prompted me to contact the Navy Historical Department for further details.   

    As we know...The RICH only drew ten feet of water, and we were near the beach when the “mines found us”.  Could the waves have washed the ship onto the beach?  If you have thoughts on the matter, let me know.  (910) 439-6194 or 8005 Twin Harbor Drive, Mt Gilead NC 27306.        

   Note arrived from Andrew Wilde Jr (of the USS GLENNON) telling about a book he is writing.  He wishes to use information about the USS RICH (DE 695) from my book.  When Andrew gets his book in print, will let everyone know. 

   Please send me information/news of anyone in the ship’s family for Newsletter material.  We all want to know your good news and your bad news.  Whether it’s aging gracefully or painfully, it will be good to know.  The Newsletter serves best when it serves us all.  Keep those cards-and-letters coming (with some pictures, of course).  “Or” call and tell me about your new Cadillac... anything!  We can ride this horse for fame and fortune; well, fame anyway.  George has us on the Internet.  George does do a masterful job with the USS RICH Website.  Has a basketful of awards to prove it.  We can take advantage of the good things that have come our way and leave our footprint.  Let the world know we were here!  *Getting carried away, sorry*

Contributions:

Carl Bodecker
Paul Frazier
Mrs. Leo Melancon

Contributions GREATLY APPRECIATED.  Keeps the Newsletter solvent! 

Reunion 2005 - ATLANTA:

 From the pen of our “Atlanta Lovelies” comes the news of the next Reunion, for which I am in much anticipation.  (Must polish-up my “southern talk’in ”, ya’ll.) 

“Plans for the 2005 reunion are underway.  We will be staying in Stone Mountain Park, East of Atlanta, GA.  Stone Mountain is known for the its carvings of President Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee, and Lt. General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson.  This will give all you good southerners (and Yankees too) the opportunity to brush up on your confederate history!  We also plan a trip to downtown Atlanta for a cultural experience.  We’re looking forward to a great time and will be sending all the needed information in the Spring Newsletter!   See’ya next June.   Linda and Cindy” 

   This is the opportunity of a life-time to see that great southern city, and I am certainly looking forward to it.  Thanks, Ladies.  Your southern charm is endearing, your beauty is breath-taking, and my pace- maker needs a new battery. *HB, HB... no need for violence*  I am just a country boy enjoying the finer things.  You know that.  And, I have been to France too.  Talk about beautiful woman.  It’s now... “Mademoiselle Dothory”.  Did I tell you about the time we were in Londonderry and these beautiful girls.... naah, forget it.  Pacemaker problems... you know.    

  In closing - May Peace and Good Health be with you and yours in the coming year. 


Ed Black with WWII anti-aircraft gun. (Navy Museum)

Ed protecting Dot from the Paparazzi.


 
Ed Black - Dot Cole
Guy Rich - Frances Livesay

            
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