World War II vet gets medals after 30-year wait
It took thirty years to replace what was lost. Bonnie Richardson, wife of World War II medic Leonard Richardson waged her own battle to regain medals earned in second world war.
Leonard of Bridge City spent two years in heavy combat in World War II as a medic. His duties were to go into battle, often under heavy fire and rescue wounded soldiers.
Richardson often had to treat wounded soldiers while being shot at by German snipers. He endured artillery fire while going about his duties. Grenades were often thrown in his direction.
Medics were prime targets for the enemy in all fields of combat throughout World War II. They had the highest casualty rate of any personnel. Life expectancy of a medic was often measured in minutes.
Richardson survived five major campaigns of the European Theater. After his discharge from the army he married, raised a family, and lived the life of a middle class American. He had returned to his Kinder, La., home. The family moved to Port Arthur after he was hired at Gulf Oil Refinery.
In the process of moving and “normal” things happening Richardson’s medals were lost.
Bonnie wrote a letter trying to get replacement medals from the Army.
A fire in St. Louis, Mo., at the National Personnel Records Center in 1973 made documentation of his service difficult.
Bonnie kept trying, as time allowed, to find any records and communicate with the army about the situation.
After 30 years the medals were finally delivered to the Richardson’s Bridge City home.
Leonard received replacements for medals he was originally awarded in 1945 at the end of the war.
The numerous medals included a World War II Victory Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, European, African, Middle Eastern Medal, a Bronze Star, the Combat Medic’s Badge and the Honorable Service Lapel Button Award.
The European, African, Middle Eastern Medal has a small silver star in the middle of the medal’s ribbon.
The star represents the battles of Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes and Central Europe. Richardson’s 28th Infantry Division was an active participant in these conflicts.
The Bronze Star Medal is the nation’s fourth highest award for valor in combat.
“I guess it was because I just saved a lot of lives,” said Richardson.
The Combat Medic’s Badge is silver with a laurel around the badge. In the center background is a stretcher facing outward. In front of the stretcher is a medical cross and a caduceus, the medical symbol of the staff with snakes intertwined. It is clearly the award that Richardson is proudest of.
“When I came home and people saw the Medic’s Badge, they would ask me if I was a paratrooper. The badges look a lot alike, but the Medic’s Badge has a stretcher on it. I would tell people that I was a medic. I did see a lot of paratroopers get shot though,” he said.
Leonard is a quite man that takes a lot of pride in his service to his country. He is grateful to his wife for her efforts to replace his medals.
The Richardsons will celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary on Nov. 4.