Lt Col Richards, A 549th Comrade

I just hung up the telephone after a conversation with retired Lt Col Fred Richards.  His name and contact info were given to me by a relative of a former 549th member.  Mr Richards knew Joe Lamont, though not well.  He remembered him from flight school and still cant figure out how my uncle finished Night Fighter Training before he did.  They were separated at that time and Mr Richards followed my uncle to Hawaii, lagging some 2 or 3 months behind.  They were not reunited again until many months later on Iwo Jima.
Sadly, the only time Mr Richards remembers my uncle from Iwo was hearing that he had been killed the day before.  He regrets not having found him sooner.
Still, the validation of meeting someone who actually KNEW my great uncle is a wonderful feeling.  Mr Richards and I had a great conversation covering most of his career in the military.  He has many, many stories!  I’ll be in touch with him again, I have no doubt.
I did learn that night fighter training was purely voluntary.  And that the wash out rate was fairly high.  I asked if he knew Earl Kovara and he said Yes.  I told him I was in contact with Max Tomassini (Earl’s son-in-law), and would pass Mr Richards contact info to him.  Mr Richards said that would be great.  I think he really enjoys talking to people who are connected to one of his old units, the 549th.  That seems to be a common trait among the WW2 veterans I have met.

I’m very glad and very fortunate to have met Mr Richards.

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