R. Randolph Richmond Jr. died November 15, 2018, at age 95. A WWII veteran, Richmond was an early and steadfast friend of The National WWII Museum. A Museum Member since 2000, he was a four-star Patriots Circle Member who in 2011 funded the transportation of 21 tons of WWII history from Normandy to New Orleans.
Thanks to Richmond’s generosity, visitors today to the Museum’s Founders Plaza can view sections of Adolf Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall,” pockmarked with holes from bullets and artillery rounds. The concrete slabs were part of German fortifications on the Normandy coast, donated by the Utah Beach Museum. Shipping wasn’t included in the donation, and when Richmond learned of the need, he answered with a five-figure check.
“Unlike many other visitors to the Warehouse District museum, Richmond, 88, had seen the barricade intact, in its original site,” wrote John Pope of The New Orleans Times-Picayune, when the macro-artifact was installed on our campus.
Richmond was a 19-year-old Tulane University student when he volunteered for the US Army in 1942. He landed at Normandy a few weeks after D-Day, and as a staff sergeant squad leader in Company B of the 413th Infantry Regiment, 104th "Timberwolf" Infantry Division, saw combat in France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany.
“Sometimes we were very frightened, just as all combat soldiers in all our wars have been,” he wrote in his war memoir Duty and Sacrifice: Memoirs of a Combat Infantryman in World War II, the War that Changed the World. “We certainly never regarded ourselves as heroes, but looking back on the war years, just to do your duty sometimes was an example of bravery in the face of intense combat actions. We were compelled by duty and the willingness to make sacrifices for our country.”
For his duty and sacrifice, he received two Purple Heart Medals with Oak Leaf Clusters, two Bronze Stars for exemplary conduct, the Expert Infantry Badge, and Combat Infantry Badge. He received the French Legion of Honor Medal at a 2008 ceremony at the Museum, and donated his Legion of Honor certificate, signed by the president of France, to the Museum’s collection. His official obituary concludes with the request that memorial donations be made to The National WWII Museum.
“Randy’s service in the war and his incredible generosity truly inspired us all,” said Stephen J. Watson, Museum President & CEO. “He and his wife, Robin, have been loyal supporters and friends of the Museum since our humble beginnings, and Randy will be dearly missed by all of us who came to know him. We are so fortunate to have his oral history in our collection—a living tribute to his service and sacrifice for our country.”
In the forward to his book, Richmond wrote that he didn’t record his wartime memories to become a published author, but rather to preserve them for his children, grandchildren, “and great-grandchildren to come.” He is survived by his wife of almost 70 years, Robin Berckes Richmond, two children, five grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
Our sympathies are with his family. Our memories of Staff Sergeant Richmond are rich with respect and gratitude. Farewell to an early and steadfast friend.