By Christy Porter, Managing Editor
Veteran Billy Richards was joined by comrade veterans Ralph Ryder and John “Big John” Robertson at Hickory Manor recently as American Legion Commander Ron Jones presented him with a proclamation and pin honoring his service in the Vietnam War.
Presidents of the United States since 2012 have issued the proclamation commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Vietnam War.
“We salute our brave Vietnam veterans who, in service to our Nation and in defense of liberty, fought gallantly against the spread of communism and defended the freedom of the Vietnamese people,” says the proclamation.
It continues by stating, “We vow to never again confuse personal disapproval of war with prejudice against those who honorably wear the uniform of our Armed Forces. With conviction, our Nation pledges our enduring respect, our continuing care, and our everlasting commitment to all Vietnam veterans.”
Richards was born in January, 1951, in Iowa, and grew up in Success. At 18 he enlisted for a two-year term to serve in the U.S. Army, knowing that his “number was up.” Basic training was completed at Fort Leonard Wood in 1969, and he had no Advanced Individual Training (AIT).
He began his military career as a jeep driver for an officer, but that was “not active enough” for him and he volunteered to be a truck driver. His request granted, Richards would continue his service as the driver of a “deuce and half,” (2-1/2-ton) truck, in Vietnam. He also drove 5-ton trucks.
He would end his service as a Specialist 4th Class, with an Honorable Discharge, a Good Conduct Medal and ribbons, and a hearing disability, in 1971.
“I served my country to the best of my ability,” said Richards. “It’s something you don’t ever forget.”
Richards would marry and have three children. He continued to drive trucks throughout his life, and also worked at sawmills in the area. He enjoyed hunting squirrels, rabbit, turkey and deer.
The commemoration continues through Veterans Day, 2025.
“We will continue to recognize our Vietnam veterans as we locate them,” said Jones.
As of 2020 statistical data, Texas County is ranked third in counties in the State of Missouri, with 13.3 percent (2,664 veterans) of its residents shown as veterans. Vietnam veterans were estimated at 929 residents.