RICHARD G LEWIS

RICHARD G LEWIS - WO

  • HOMETOWN:
  • westfield
  • COUNTY:
  • Union
  • DATE OF BIRTH:
  • July 26, 1943
  • DATE OF CASUALTY:
  • May 05, 1968
  • BRANCH OF SERVICE:
  • Army
  • RANK:
  • WO
  • STATUS:
  • KIA
  • COUNTRY:
  • South Vietnam

Biography


Richard Gary Lewis was born on July 26, 1943, in Scranton, PA, to Gomer and Grace Lewis. His home of record is Westfield, NJ, where he lived most of his life. He was a 1961 graduate of Westfield High School and he studied business administration at the University of Delaware and Fairleigh Dickinson University before accepting a job with the US Postal Service in 1964. He was an active member of the Westfield Volunteer Rescue Squad and a member of Theta Chi Fraternity. He was also interested in photography.

According to his father, Lewis enlisted in the US Army in February 1966, for helicopter training and attained the rank of Warrant Officer (WO). Lewis was assigned to the 335th Assault Helicopter Company, 268th Aviation Battalion, 17th Aviation Group, 1st Aviation Brigade. He always had an avid interest in flying and had even taken lessons at Manville Airport shortly after graduating from high school.

After basic and advanced infantry training at Fort Dix, NJ, Lewis went into primary helicopter training at Ft. Wolters, TX, and advanced helicopter training at Ft. Rucker, AL. He received his silver wings on February 13, 1968, and later told his parents that this was "the greatest achievement" of his lifetime and the "happiest moment" of his life.

He had been stationed in Vietnam since March 1968, and had written enthusiastic and positive letters to his family. He felt that he was doing his share for his country, something that had to be done.

On May 5, 1968, Richard was killed when the helicopter he was co-piloting crashed and burned while on a combat mission in Binh Dinh, South Vietnam. He was survived by his parents and his sister, Barbara.

He was awarded the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal, the Vietnam Campaign Ribbon, the Army Aviator Badge, the Army Commendation Air Medal and the Purple Heart.

My brother was seven years younger than I. We were so excited when he was born in 1943. He was the typical, mischievous, younger brother. When he heard that furs kept better in cold storage, he put his favorite stuffed monkey in our freezer. Imagine my mother's surprise when she opened the freezer door. He also liked to draw faces on our oranges.

Richard loved Christmas and had his own tree that he alone decorated on our second floor. He cared about others and had a very loving heart.

Written by Barbara Lewis Van Meter, Sister

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