A Savannah Army veteran has been inducted into the Georgia Military Veteran’s Hall of Fame.
He served in two wars and his work still impacts every service member who parachutes from airplanes.
89-year-old David Richards, Jr. has lived and raised a family in Savannah since 1975. He started his military career as a 17-year-old during World War II.
“I graduated from high school on a Friday night and Tuesday morning I was into the service,” Richards said. He served in the western Pacific, but after the war, he says hopes of becoming a mortician were dashed and he reenlisted, but this time he went airborne and spent 27 years doing it.
“While you’re in the air, you’re descending around twenty-two feet per second. The fall wasn’t bad, it was just that sudden stop,” said Richards.
But he didn’t stop, he soared, rising to the rank of Chief Warrant Officer 4.
The Lieutenant Colonel who nominated Richards wrote about his service in the 101st Airborne Division in the Vietnam War:
“Richards was recognized as one of the leading, most knowledgeable, and experienced experts in all aspects of military parachutes including design, maintenance, testing, evaluation, safety, and engineering. A Master Rigger, he amassed over 1,200 jumps, of which many were testing new equipment. A very large and unknown number of military parachute operations have been made safer and many lives saved by the dedicated devotion to duty of this profession.”
Richards says he didn’t serve with the intentions of earning accolades.
“Well, I think it was a worthwhile thing because, all these troops that I had, I wanted them to excel in their knowledge and be the best they could be,” he said. “I did it because I thought that I was doing something worthwhile that could help someone else along the way and, motivate someone, the young people coming along, to do something with their lives.”
Richards was nominated for induction into the Hall of Fame for service, which he continued after retiring from the Army. He worked for 12 years for the Savannah Police Department and 28 years as an instructor at St. Leo University.
Mr. Richards has always been and still is very active in the community.
He is a charter member of the 100 Black Men of Savannah. He has held offices at the local, state and district level in his fraternity – Omega Psi Phi.
In 2008, he was the Parade Marshall in the Veterans Parade.
He has served the community with the Coastal Empire Mental Health Board, the Mediation Board, the Hungry Club, the Frank Callan Boys and Girls Club, the Veterans’ Council, the World War II Council, the American Legion, and the Military Officers Association. Mr. Richards attends St Phillip AME Church where he sings in the choir.
As a model family man, Mr. and Mrs. Richards have been married 59 years and are the proud parents of 3 adult children.
The Georgia Military Veterans Hall of Fame recognizes nominations for valor, achievement, and for service.
Richards is one of 17 veterans admitted in the 2018 induction, selected from over 200 nominations.