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David Richards

Military officer David Richards was born on March 19, 1929 in Sedalia, Missouri to Christina Diggs Richards and David Richards. He attended Lincoln School and C.C. Hubbard High School in Sedalia. Richards then studied at the College of Mortuary Science in St. Louis, Missouri, graduating in 1951. Years later, Richards received his B.A. degree in business administration from Park College in Parkville, Missouri in 1975. Three years later, he earned his M.A. degree in human resources from Pepperdine University.

Upon graduating from high school, Richards joined the United States Army in 1946. He was stationed at Camp Stoneman in California, and deployed overseas to the Pacific Theater. Richards became a member of the U.S. Army band, and rose to head of the reed section. After completing U.S. Army service in 1948, Richards worked briefly as an apprentice mortician, and returned to the Army in 1954. He completed airborne training at Fort Benning, Georgia and attended rigger school at Fort Lee, Virginia. He served ten years in the 612th Quartermaster Aerial Supply Company, and then transferred to the Artic Test Center in Fort Greenly, Alaska, where he tested airdrop equipment. Then, Richards was sent to the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center in Massachusetts, where he helped develop expendable parachutes for the Vietnam War. In 1968, Richards became the Army’s first African American warrant officer, and remained the sole African American in that rank until his retirement in 1983. After his Army career, Richards worked at the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department in staffing, and later as a crime prevention analyst. He continued teaching as an adjunct professor at Saint Leo University until 2000.

As the first African American warrant officer, Richards was inducted into the Parachute Rigger Warrant Officer’s Hall of Fame upon his retirement in 1983. Richards was also inducted into the Distinguished Order of Saint Martin within the Quartermaster Corps in the United States Army. He was a three time recipient of the Omega Man of the Year Award and the Superior Service Award. Georgia Legislative Black Caucus, Inc. also honored Richards with the Salute to Veterans Award.

Richards was a member of St. Philip A.M.E. Church in Savannah, Georgia. He also served as an advisor to the director of the West Board Street YMCA, as president for the Mental Health Association of the Coastal Empire, as vice chair of human services for Chatham County and as chairperson of the superintendent advisory council for the Chatham County Board of Education. Richards was a board member for the Frank Callen Boys and Girls Club, JHS of Savannah, the Meditation Center Board, the Martin Luther King Day Observance Committee and the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum.

Richards and his wife, Swannie Moore Richards have three children: David Richards III, Yvette Richards, and Bonnye Richards Anthony.

Richards passed away on February 5, 2019.

David Richards was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 9, 2017.

Accession Number

A2017.044

Sex

Male

Interview Date

02/10/2017

Last Name

Richards

Maker Category
Schools

Pepperdine University

Park University

C.C. Hubbard High School

Lincoln School

First Name

David

Birth City, State, Country

Sedalia

HM ID

RIC20

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Missouri

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

Success Awaits At Labor's Gates.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

3/19/1929

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Savannah

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Death Date

2/5/2019

Short Description

Military officer David Richards, Jr. (1929 - 2019) conducted over 11,000 parachute operations on behalf of the U.S. Army, and was inducted into the Parachute Rigger Warrant Officer’s Hall of Fame.

Employment

US Army

Saint Leo University

Savannah Tribune

Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department

Favorite Color

Purple

DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of David Richards' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - David Richards lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - David Richards describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - David Richards describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - David Richards talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - David Richards describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - David Richards remembers his community in Sedalia, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - David Richards describes his parents' occupations

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - David Richards remembers the Lincoln School in Sedalia, Missouri

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - David Richards remembers the Great Depression

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - David Richards recalls his childhood activities

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - David Richards remembers the faculty of the Lincoln School in Sedalia, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - David Richards remembers his activities at C.C. Hubbard High School in Sedalia, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - David Richards recalls the Taylor Chapel Methodist Church in Sedalia, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - David Richards remembers his prom

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - David Richards describes his family vacations

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - David Richards remembers the businesses in Sedalia, Missouri

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - David Richards recalls joining the U.S. Army

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - David Richards recalls the aftermath of World War II in the western Pacific

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - David Richards remembers joining a U.S. Army band, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - David Richards remembers joining a U.S. Army band, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - David Richards talks about his military promotions

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - David Richards recalls his training as a mortician

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - David Richards remembers his decision to return to the U.S. Army

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - David Richards remembers his paratrooper training

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - David Richards recalls attending parachute rigger school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - David Richards remembers conducting parachute field tests

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - David Richards describes his work at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - David Richards remembers being denied a promotion

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - David Richards remembers his promotion to warrant officer

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - David Richards describes his duties as a warrant officer

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - David Richards remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - David Richards talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - David Richards remembers his retirement from the U.S. military

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - David Richards recalls his career at the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - David Richards describes his college education

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - David Richards remembers his career as a professor

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - David Richards describes his organizational activities, pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - David Richards describes his organizational activities, pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - David Richards shares a message to future generations

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - David Richards reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - David Richards describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - David Richards recalls serving as parade marshal for the Veteran's Council

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - David Richards remembers his students

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - David Richards narrates his photographs