Interview With Richard L. French

From the interview with Richard L. French of Port Angeles, WA conducted by John Croghan at the Fort Worden History Center on October 14, 2004. Mr. French served in the US Navy in World War II and later in the US Army Second Engineer Special Brigade at Fort Worden and Korea. Here he relates some of his experiences:

“I joined the Army in 1948 in Elmira, NY, went to Fort Dix for processing, and was only there a couple of days when I was transferred. to the 532nd Engineer Regiment, Company B. I was sent to Fort Worden, WA by myself. Took the train out and I landed in Seattle. I told the MPs I was going to Fort Worden and they said, ‘Where’s that?’

I thought I was at the end of the world when I was coming out on the Peninsula after taking a couple of ferries and a bus. I landed at Point Hudson, and I didn’t want to stay in the boat, so I asked to be transferred, so I bid for a job as a courier in headquarters in Headquarters Company. I carried correspondence to the different offices on the Fort for two years. General D.A.D. Ogden was the commanding officer, later Colonel Alexander took over. Then when we left for Korea, Colonel Joseph J. Twitty was the commanding officer. He became a brigadier general in Korea.

…The highlight (of his time at Fort Worden) was the football team. We won 14 to nothing against Fort Lewis and we beat Camp Stoneman 27 to 0, and won the Sixth Army championship. Col. Alexander was the guardian angel of the football team. They didn’t do much KP, I’ll tell you.I saw my first organized football game in Fort Worden. Got my first car, and got my first driver’s license in Port Townsend, and I saw the Officers Club burn.

…I got married on June the 24th of 1950 in the post chapel. …On August 3rd, they alerted our company …they loaded the whole Second ESB on a troop transport right off the dock, but they had the barges out because the troop transport couldn’t tie up at the dock.

…We landed in Pusan and then we went to Camp McGill in Japan, then our outfit landed in Inchon. I boarded a Swedish freighter in Yokohama and took some LCMs to Wonsan in North Korea. Then I was in on the evacuation of North Korea and we rode an LSD back to Pusan, went up to Inchon again and back to Japan. …I stayed with the Second ESB until December of 1951 when I was transferred back to the States and discharged at Camp McCoy, WI.”

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