Heroes: the Marine Corps
"...He softly states, 'Richard, I asked you how many children you have -- Do you not know how many children you have -- is it two or three?'..."
Sidney J. Richard
- Branch of Service: USMC
- Unit: Military Police Co., Guard Bn., Marine Training & Replacement Cmd.
- Dates: 1944 - 1945
- Location: Stateside
- Rank: PFC
- Birth Year: 1917
- Entered Service: Eunice, LA
But; I have my draft registration
"Shortly after the United States was drawn into the global conflict of World War II, Sidney Richard, as so many other young men of draft age, registered with the draft. When the drawing took place, he drew a high number and over time he watched his brothers, brothers-in-law and friends all either being drafted or signing up to do their part. For Sidney, he spent the early months of the war working as a meat cutter at a meat packing plant in Lake Charles, Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. He regularly went down the street to the enlistment office to try and sign up.
Being he was married with two children and a small man in comparison to many others he knew, the Sergeant at the enlistment office would tell him to go back to work and wait for his number to come up. The war dragged on and one day a couple of men in cheap suits came into the packing plant that Sidney was working. They asked to speak to him. The conversation was regarding the shocking fact that Sidney Richard was listed as a draft evader.
Of course, this was not the case according to Sidney, for he had his copy of his draft notice to prove that he had indeed registered at the start of the war. He also said that he had gone down to the enlistment office just a few days ago and was again turned down. The men asked him to accompany them down to the enlistment office and were told by the same Sergeant there that "Yeah, Richard always come down here to enlist -- he was here just a few days ago and again I sent him home telling him to wait until they called him up." The two men let Sidney go back to work"
Two when I left -- Probably three when I get home
"In February 1944, Sidney Richard was to fulfill his appointment at the local induction center located in Lafayette, Louisiana. At the time, his wife, and mother of two children, Lucy, was expecting a third child and they were staying at her Mother's home in the north side of Eunice. Sidney had to leave early in the morning for the 40 mile drive to Lafayette and his date with the U. S. Marine Corps. As he was leaving the house, Lucy called to him to let him know that she felt that she had gone into labor and needed to get to the hospital. He told her to get her Mother to take her down to the hospital located in the center of town at Park Ave and 7th Street -- for he had to make that appointment in Lafayette and could not miss it.
While at the induction center, the usual routine of changing young men from civilians into servicemen began including stripping down to their skivies, medical and physical exams and other batteries of tests. At one point, Sidney was in a line awaiting his turn in front of some burley ill tempered sergeant.Finally, his turn arrived and a series of quick fire questions were shot at Sidney -- who answered them to the best of his ability. At one point the question is asked: 'Richard, how many children do you have?' -- to which the automatic response of "Two or three, Sergeant'. There is a long pause, by the sergeant and again in a slightly more agitated tone the question is repeated: "Richard, how many children do you have?" to which the same reply is given. Now, everyone around stops what they are doing and listen to see what the sergeant is going to do next. He softly states, 'Richard, I asked you how many children you have -- Do you not know how many children you have -- is it two or three?' Sidney calmly replied, 'Sergeant, when I left this morning, my wife was going into labor and was on her way to the hospital to deliver a baby. When I left, I had two children at home and when I get home, I will probably have three.'
Sidney passed his Marine Corps induction physical on the 9th of February, 1944 -- the same day that the webmaster of this web site was born.
Funny, how things come around and go around. Today, that same hospital that this child came into this world, back in February 1944, is currently converted into an apartment building -- and the manager of that apartment building -- you guessed it, is one Sidney J. Richard."
Image taken in 1945 at age of 28 in Camp LeJeune, NC.
Image taken in 1945 at age of 28 in Camp LeJeune, NC.
Caption on photograph reads:"to mother in law and Dad from Chick -- Chick and friend -- This picture is not good but I will send a better one later a sad sack of shit Chick
What a quick turnaround
"Sidney spent less than a year in uniform, due to his late call-up. As a marine, he was assigned to an MP (military police) Company in Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, California, where he spent most of his enlistment.
The above stories of the war were written by this webmaster, Joe Richard, the son of Sidney J. Richard, as they were told him over a few visiting sessions over the last few years. Very little editing of material was done to enhance the overall tale.
I often wonder what things would have been like had my Father been allowed to enlist early in the war as was his original intention. Had he gone into the Marine Corps, it is my innermost feelings that quite possibly, I would not be here today typing this segment of this webpage!!!!!
Maybe someone up there was looking down in favor upon my Father.
25 June 2003:
Interesting how time has a way of instilling certain powerful memories into our mind. Such was the visit that I made to me Dad on 25 June 2003 after having just learned that he had developed a small "spot on his lung"...Dad said it was his right lung; but the radialogist report indicated the left lung.
Going home to see my Dad that day, I did not give much thought to the fact, found out much later, that this indeed was going to be our last "happy meeting" where we talked freely for a day while I sat in the cozy living room of his apartment -- in our small hometown of Eunice.
I would never have imagined that but a few shorts months later, I along with my three other brothers and a sister, would be burying our Dad in the crypt adjoining our Mother's. Lucy, his wife of some 64 years had passed away the proceeding September and this event had a devestating effect on our family.
But, on that warm June day, the only thing that mattered was that Dad was again in a talkative mood and the conversation had turned once more to the days that he had served in the Marines -- back in 1945.
I was told of a few incidents that to date, had never been told me. They are not earth shaking events, or even events that would normally create a lot of emotion from me.
They were, however, events that my Dad had lived and that became important to me.
He mentions a few event that included the following:
While we are talking about my WWII Stories project, he showed me a scar on his left leg, on the outside, a few inches above his ankle and tells me that this was where a piece of shrapnel had exited while he was in the hospital recovering from heart surgery some two years before. I asked him what he was talking about and he told me:
"That is where I was hit by a piece of shrapnel from a grenade!" It seems that while he was on the practice range where the men were learning the art of throwing grenades, one idiot accidently let one fly BEHIND the protective enclosure! They all hit the ground and the grenade exploded sending shrapnel all over and one piece hitting Dad in the left leg! He felt a burning in his lower leg and he was doing some limping around. The officer in charge asked him if he had been hit, and he told the officer that he was not sure? The officer suggesed that he go to the hospital to have it checked with Dad refusing? He did not want to spend time in the hospital?
I was surprised that the officer did not order him to the hospital.
A second incident involves DAd walking back to the post. He was walking on a narrow strip of paved road in order not to get his shoes dirty. An approaching cab hit him throwing him into the ditch. He was hit as the turned around to see the approaching car. The driver of the cab -- a sixteen year old? got out and offered to take him to the hospital and Dad refused. He then offered to take him to the post and again Dad refused telling him to leave after telling the cabbie that he would not get him fired.
On another incident, Dad was being harrassed by a "yankee". The men, a squad of thirteen men, were assigned to a hut and each had to take turns doing certain details and each time the "yankee" was supposed to do his turn, he would always managed to shirk out of it. On a Sunday, when the men were on a field with time off, there were men boxing and doing other things. The "yankee" who called Dad "cajun -- or something like that" told him to put on a pair of gloves. Dad told him that he would not and the "yankee" badgered him. Dad put on the gloves and the "yankee" took of a fighting pose. Dad saw an easy opening and uppercut the fellow in the jaw who went down like a bag of potatoes. The fellow quickly decided that he wanted no other part of boxing with Dad.
On another occasion, the men went on bivoack about 8 to 10 miles from the camp and and they used their ponchos to make two man tents (two ponchos doubled as two halves of a two man tent). The men then dug fox holes outside of their tents and Dad hit a source of water with the men coming over to fill their canteens with the water (using a form of iodine to purify the water. You would drop a couple of drops in the dirty water, and shake up canteen...then letting it settle).
In the tent, they laid a blanket on the ground and covered up with a second blanket. During the night it rained very heavily and early in morning, Dad noticed something lying on his feet. He managed to see what it was and about this time it moved over to the other fellows feet who woke up and wanted to know what it was. Dad told him to be quiet an lay still for it was a rattler and would leave as soon as it got light enough. It did and they breath a sigh of relief.
He also told me of an offer by the company captain who was aware of Dad's abilies as a butcher and experienced meat trimmer. Near the end of his enlistment, he asked Dad to consider extending his enlistment -- for if he did, the captain would make him a sergeant. Dad thought over the generous offer, but after considering that his family would end up moving from one military post to another during his years of service, he decided not to take the offer. Also, he confided in me that the main reason he chose to turn down the captain, was that "Frankly, I did not trust him."
We lost Sidney a week ago on August 30th. He became ill with the cancer that had invaded his lungs and eventually he lost his final battle -- dying quietly with his favorite Grandson near his side.
Everyone will miss Sidney.
Sidney J. Richard was born in 1917, in Lans Mege (just about 5 miles north of Eunice), Evangeline Parish, Louisiana to Enas (Anas) Richard and Adeliade Guillory. He was married in 1938, to Lucia [Lucy] HEBERT of Eunice, St. Landry Parish. Sidney was the eldest son in a family of three girls and four boys. He has spent all of his life in the Eunice/Lake Charles area earning a living doing a variety of occupations from meat packer worker to bread delivery supervisor and an apartment manager. Sidney and Lucy raised a family of five children, including one daughter and four sons.
Mr. Sidney Jean Richard
August 30, 2003
Military Police Guard Battalion
United States Marine Corps