He was like Moses parting the ocean whenever he walked into the room. Always sharp, everyone said. The way he slicked his dark hair back could always catch the eye. He always wore his uniform every chance he got.
His name was Harold Richter. He was a member of the United States Marine Corps who served in the Pacific and was called to the Korean War on September 20, 1950 for active duty. After Richter passed away this past March due to a lengthy illness, his son, Dr. Randy Conrad Richter, gathered with several other marines Wednesday at Boomtown Casino to commemorate the life of his father and others still alive to tell the tale of the second great war.
“My father didn’t talk about it a lot, we didn’t talk about it a lot, but we thought about it every day.” Richter said. “He never forgot he was a marine.”
Richter was sad to be there in place of his father but proud to talk about the life he once lived.
The brave men all sat at the table, facing everyone, with so little time to tell the stories that had changed their lives.
The stories that had changed the fate of the nation we live in today.
“We had good times and bad times — but I like to think about the good times.” Ray Urban, member of the United States Marine Corps, said.
Urban joined the marines in January of 1942 and was a first sergeant of the fighter squad. He started out being trained as a static jumper and then became an aviation mechanic. He traveled to nine islands during his service and saw combat, although it was limited.
Building a foxhole that he and several of his marine friends hung out in was his favorite part.
Sheriff Harold Terry told how he joined the marines at the age of 17. He was a part of the second regimen and was trained to use every weapon imaginable. Terry spent his service in Guam and Okinawa; he shot the highest in his regimen and was ranked accordingly. Post marine service, Terry spent 33 years of his life as a sheriff.
“I have learned a lot and have carried it with me my whole life,” Terry said. “They said we were the greatest generation but we were the poorest generation.”
The crowd continued to listen in amazement at all the men had endured.
The next marine to spin his tale was George “Buddy” Hudsmith.
Hudsmith was a part of the fourth marine division and announced that this division saw more action in a shorter amount of time than any other division. He had experiences at the Battle of Iwo Gima and then became a recruiter for the reserve units.
“Most have never heard stories such as these,” Judge Gayle K. Hamilton, member of the United States Marine Corps, said. “I can guarantee you that they are all true.”
Hamilton was proud to show off some of his World War II memorabilia; he brought his “cap” that he wore during his service as well as his bayonet.
He face lit up as he held up one of his pictures of him in the service when he was just a boy.
Urban interrupted and said, “Tell them about those Chinese women.”
The men laughed like they were a bunch of boys again.
“To listen to these stories is more than I can always imagine,” Dick Nelson, close friend of Hamilton, said. “I was born during the war and because of you guys I live in a free country and you do not know how much it means to me.”
“When I listen to your stories I see how genuine you all are and you make me so proud to be an American.”
Hamilton had the idea to have the gathering in memory of everyone’s past services.
Due to the efforts of Vice President and General Manager of Boomtown, Rod Centers, and other workers at Boomtown, this event was made possible.
“We’re all about community, honoring people and doing the right thing.” Centers said. “There’s nothing that I would rather host than this. From what these guys went through and how you still managed to keep their sense of humor and humility, we owe them a big thank you.”
The event was hosted by local radio talk show host and U.S. Naval veteran, Tom Pace, who hosts the show the “Talk of the Town” every Monday through Friday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on The Promise 90.7 FM. To hear some of these heroes stories, a special broadcast will be held on the Fourth of July from all of these heroes by Pace on the station.