Faces in the Crowd: Richard Parham
The world breathed an enormous sigh of relief when WWII was over on this month 75 years ago. War veteran still remain with stories, Rapid City man shares some of his and how he recieved a Purple Heart.
RAPID CITY, S.D. — World War II has been referred to as “the bloodiest conflict in human history”.
The world breathed an enormous sigh of relief when it was over on this month 75 years ago.
War veterans still remain with stories. WWII veteran Richard Parham lives in Rapid City. He has many stories to tell about not only his time overseas during the war, but just about his life in general.
And at 95-years-old, his mind is full of vivid details.
Richard grew up in Oklahoma and was drafted into the service right after beginning college.
He spent two years in the service in the Army’s Armored Division, stationed mostly in the South Pacific at Okinawa.
He was given the job of manning the radio in a war tank, going into combat he said there was no room for errors. He learned the value of precision very quickly.
“And I was also the driver for the tank, driver, that little bitty hole like that, and we get into a bad situation, I had to call and direct him out of there, this tank we had, it was what they call an M-7,” Parham said. “It was an open top tank, if we were in a real danger area, I had to do some quick looking and made sure we could get out of there with that tank, we don’t tear it up and we loose it or something”.
One day that changed his life when he and his crew thought they were in a safe place, loading ammunition onto their tank.
Suddenly, they were fired at and he was the only one hit by a piece of shrapnel that ended up to be a close call.
“It hit me right here [above the eye], knocked me down and blood, I could see blood shot out of it, so I put my hand on my- and they took me to an aid station and I stayed there three days,” Parham said. “It was the doctor that cut out that piece of steel out of my skull and he said if that had hit you in the eye you would have died instantly and that was about that much difference [a couple of inches].”
For that hit, he’s a Purple Heart recipient. Richard didn’t have any photos or memorabilia of the war, just his honorable discharge papers from the military.
When he came back to the U.S., he spent the next 30 some years as a clerk for American Airlines where he retired. After retirement he traveled the world and spent a lot of time outside – doing yard work.
Richard also mentioned that above all else, he takes great value in being a father to two children and the rest of the generations down the line.
He attributes his sharp memory and health to good living – saying he never smoked or drank alcohol – didn’t overeat and exercised daily.
Watch the video below to see what more Anya had to share about her time with Richard.