Carol Richardson Bowers takes great pride in remembering the service her father and four uncles gave to their country during World War II.
Her father, the late Thomas Quentin Richardson, entered active military service in the U.S. Army on Nov. 4, 1941, undergoing training at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga., before being sent to Camp Hawse in Texas. There he was promoted to Technical 4th Grade on Oct. 20, 1942.
His daughter noted that her father’s military occupation specialty was Gun Crewman Medium Artillery 864. In other words, Richardson served as a rifle expert.
He also served in several major European campaigns — Battles of Ardennes, Rhineland and Central Europe — during the war. He was decorated with the European/African/Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon, with three Bronze Stars, the Good Conduct Medal, the America Theater Ribbon, the American Defense Ribbon and World War II Victory Medal.
“He was given a Certificate of Merit in recognition of conspicuously meritorious and outstanding performance of military duty against the enemy in Belgium,” Bowers said.
The staff sergeant’s performance of duty included serving as a chief of section for the 327th Field Artillery Battalion, 84th Infantry Division, from Jan. 2-26, 1945.
He left Sept. 29, 1944, for the European Theater and arrived on Oct. 10, 1944. His continental service lasted for two years and nine months, and his foreign service lasted for one year, one month and one day.
Richardson attended Artillery Mechanic School at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. His highest rank attained was Staff Sergeant with the 327th Field Artillery Battalion. He was honorably discharged at Fort Knox, Ky., on Nov. 4, 1945.
“Daddy told us of how seasick he and the other men were when they were put on a boat to England,” Bowers said. “He had never had an experience like that before.”
Through the years, he also shared other stories with his family from his time fighting the war.
“He told us of how he and his men nearly froze to death, as it was bitter cold in the Ardennes,” Bowers recalled. “The hills and woods were covered with ice and snow. The mercury dropped to zero. The ground was frozen so hard it took five hours to dig a foxhole three feet deep.
Bowers said her father told stories of savage fighting. “He told us about how they would pull up a vegetable from a garden to have something to eat,” she said. “He also told of how they would look in the cellars of houses to see if they could find food.”
Bowers said that her father took care of the men in his charge. In return, he asked only that they listen to him and do what he told them to do.
“I believe he stated that he only lost one man,” she said. “They were camping out, drinking coffee, and Daddy had a cup of coffee shout out of his hand. They started to run across some railroad tracks and one of his men was killed.”
Bowers learned from her uncle, Ray Richardson, that her father and his men were behind enemy lines for about a month and they survived the ordeal.
“Daddy was in charge of giving orders on shooting the big guns,” Bowers said. “His unit had to transport them across rivers and hide them with camouflage nets when they were not in use.”
Her father brought back souvenirs from the war.
“He brought back a book with a picture of a building and he wrote in the book that he and his men were hiding in that building because he had some wounded men,” Bowers said.
Her uncle, Frank Richardson, told Bowers that when her father’s men came out of the building the next morning, they found dead German soldiers lying on the ground.
“Apparently, they held off the Germans,” she said.
In the same book that her father brought back, he wrote that the 84th was commended by VII Corps for being the first division to gain its objective in the Battle of the Bulge.
Her father also brought home a German dagger taken off of a dead German solider. He gave the dagger to his grandson, David.
Bowers also recalled letters from her father to her mother.
“He wrote that the people in that part of Germany looked at Americans ‘with hell in their eyes,’” she said.
Richardson also brought back a photo album and said that he was told by the Germans that they had made the cover of the album from the skin of their tortured enemies.
Bowers, who still possesses the album, said it is very fragile and she avoids handling it to preserve it.
“Daddy told many other stories that I missed out on, but his brothers knew of them,” she said. “Now there is no one left in the family to give me any more information.”
Bowers said that her father never got to see her until she was already 13 months old. In his letters home, however, he told her mother that he could not wait to see his daughter.
“I lived with my mother and her parents while he was gone,” Bowers said. She added that her mother sent him picture postcards of his daughter.
“I wish I had listened to my Daddy and heard more about his wartime experiences,” Bowers said.
She noted that her father loved his country, his family and his church.
“When he returned home, he went back to work at NARC,” Bowers said. He worked there for 53 years until he was 75.
The son of Robert and Irene Richardson, he grew up on a farm in the Shell Creek community.
“He performed hard work at home and hired himself out to other farm owners as a farmhand for 10 cents an hour,” Bowers said. “If you know anything about farming, it was hard work from daylight to dark.”
Bowers said her father planted trees around the old Cloudland High School. In fact, she said he attended the dilapidated old school where his uncle, Guy Oaks, worked as a teacher.
Later, the Richardson family moved to a farm on Stoney Creek.
Bowers said that her father went by his middle name, Quentin, a name he was given in honor of one of President Theodore Roosevelt’s sons.
“He loved to play croquet,” she said. “He played with croquet groups that traveled for fun to Milligan and King Springs as well as communities in North Carolina.
Croquet was his pleasure away from work, and he and his brothers became very skilled at the game.
“My daddy never knew anything but work,” Bowers said. “He painted houses during his time off from work. He was a hard worker.”
Richardson married Helen Ledford in April of 1943. The couple were married until Helen’s death in 2001.
Bowers said she was the only child of her parents.
Her own son, David, had a special relationship with his grandfather.
“He was the boy my daddy never had,” Bowers said.
“My daddy lived to be 85 years old and had the strongest hands,” Bowers recalled.
In addition, he twice saved her life.
“Once when he, my mother and I were crossing East E Street, a drunk driver pulled out and hit my mother,” she recalled. “My father threw me out of the way so I would not get hurt.”
A few years later, he once again saved her life.
“He was driving an old taxi that he bought,” Bowers said. “I was sitting beside the passenger door, which suddenly opened. I was barely hanging on, almost touching the road, and he reached over and grabbed me and pulled me up.”
With deep admiration and gratitude, she added, “He was a hero in the military service and to me.”
Bowers said she is very proud of her father and his brothers. “They were all Christians,” she added. “Their momma raised them right.”
Her father’s brothers served in different branches of the military.
Dennis Richardson served in the U.S. Marines. After the war, he became a bus driver for Trailways.
Ray Richardson served in the Pacific as a Navy Seabee. Seabees are members of the U.S. Navy’s construction battalions. Later, he worked for Elizabethton City Water and oversaw a program on urban renewal.
Don Richardson served in the U.S. Army Air Corps. When the war ended, he embarked on a career as a high school counselor and teacher in the Carter County School System.
Frank Richardson served in the U.S. Army and guarded prisoners. After the war, he worked in law enforcement and retired from the Tennessee Highway Patrol. He also served as a bailiff and commissioner in Washington County.
“That is the other miracle in this story,” she said. “Daddy and his four brothers all served in World War II. They all returned home safely. Thank God.”