Presentation Date: October 26, 2017
Ensign Lee Richardson, US Navy
Lee Richardson, Ensign, US Navy by Ken Evans
Lee was born in San Francisco’s Lane Hospital (now known as Children’s Hospital) in 1929. His father was Chief Engineer of the Matson Line; his mother owned a restaurant. He had one younger brother. He attended Tamalpais High School but left after one year to join the Merchant Marine.
After training at the Maritime College of New York, Lee signed on as a third assistant engineer aboard the Clarksdale Victory cargo ship which was contracted with The Army Transportation Corps. While he was on shore leave, in 1947 the vessel ran aground in Canada’s Queen Charlotte Islands, broke in two, and sank with only three survivors.
Lee had qualified for an Amateur Radio General License and a private pilot’s license. He and a friend decided to join the US Navy and enlisted in the Bay Area in 1948. His initial goal was to become a radio operator on a submarine. But he saw a bulletin board notice re flight training; he applied and was accepted. After training at Pensacola, Miramar, and San Diego Naval Air Stations, he was promoted to Warrant Officer. Assigned to the carrier Valley Forge home ported at Alameda, he departed the US in June 1950 for the Western Pacific and was promoted to Ensign while en route.
Only six days after the Korean conflict began, Lee began flying close air support missions for the British, the US Army, and the US Marines. His Corsair was often damaged by hostile ground fire. On one mission, his hydraulic system was hit and he had to land at Inchon for repairs before flying back to his ship. He flew a total of 68 combat missions.
Aircraft types flown: SNJ, F4U Corsair, RD-4, and two seaplanes.
His military awards and decorations include the:
-- China Service Medal
-- Korean Service Medal
-- National Defense Service Medal
-- Navy Good Conduct Medal
-- United Nations Service Medal
After return from his first and only cruise, he separated from the Navy in 1954 and hired on as a technician with a RCA Communications antenna farm at Point Arena. Later, he went into business for himself with a gas station and a large machine shop in Inverness.
In 1962, Lee married Lucile Trayar; they had two boys and one girl. The couple divorced in 1984.
Lee retired in 2006 and resides in Inverness.