Richard Alwin Weske
Richard Alwin Weske was born in Stanford University Hospital to Dorothy Adele (McLeod) and Christian Alwin Weske when they were living in San Fransico. His father served in the U.S. Navy and Richard grew up in a military family s Christian was in the Naval Reserve from 1936 and also on active duty during World War II and Korea.
California was the 'home base' of the Weskes, where Christian owned and operated the California Drayage Co. of San Francisco for 14 years. He spent his early life in Santa Rosa. He was active in communities where he lived.
Commander (Ret) Weske was assigned to the San Diego Naval Supply Depot prior to 1943. He was stationed at the Oakland Navel Supply Depot, Washington D.C., and served aboard the USS Manchester (CL83) during the Korean War, and retired from Gulfport CBC base (Mississippi) in the late 1950s.
The family lived in El Rio until about 1963 when they moved to Camarillo. Commander Weske then moved the family to the Ventura County area where he worked a civil service job at the Port Hueneme CB Base until he retired in the 70's.
Growing up, Richard and his brother Reid, lived in various locations such as Virginia, Utah, Mississippi and California where Richard graduated from Adolfo Camarillo High School, Camarillo in 1965. Richard went on to attend one year at Ventura College.
According to Reid, during and after high school (other then Ventura College) and before going into the Army, he and Richard were avid surfers, mostly in and around Ventura County. On most weekends and some week days too, you would find them at "C" street, the fair grounds, or some other local surfing spot. It was something they both loved and took part of every opportunity they could.
1965 - Richard graduating Camarillo High School
1965 - Reid (left) & Richard (right) prior to high school prom in Camarillo CA
1965 - Grad-Night at Disneyland (date Nancy Babb-Stone)
1968 - In Vietnam - relaxing in his apartment
SP4 Weske was sent to Vietnam and began his tour of duty on May 22, 1967.
Because of his artistic talents, Richard designed and painted the unit crest for the 191st Assault Helicopter Company (AHC) and the "nose art" on many of the unit helicopters, such as the one shown below for "Super Ship". Some of his other art can be found in John Brennan's book "Vietnam War Helicopter Art".
Also responsbile for "BABY HUEY" and was also "one hell of a crew chief"
according to Don Sandrock. He was "a hippie's hippy" said pilot Don
Williams, who added, "He was a good man and the only hippie I ever liked."
Richard extended for 60 days in order to go back to college and had written home that he intended to quit flying on May 21st as his year was up and he would 'cool it' for his last 60 days. He was killed on the day he said he would quit flying.
He died from wounds received while a crew chief on his helicopter on a combat operation when it was hit by hostile automatic weapons fire. The aircraft did NOT crash or burn. He was admitted to the hospital on 21 May 1969 and immediately placed on the Very Seriously Injured (VSI) list and died later that same day from his wounds.
After notifying the family, it was announced in local area papers as:
Five Southland Men Killed in Viet War
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Defense Department released yesterday the names of 63 servicemen killed in combat in Vietnam. The list included five Southern Californians: Army S. Sgt. Cornealus Pumphrey Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. Comealus Pumphrey, Palm Springs; Spec. 4 Richard A. Weske, son of Mr. and Mrs. Christian A. Weske, Camarillo; Sgt. Dennis E. Dyer, husband of Mrs. Laura H. Dyer, Taft; Sgt. Anund C. Roark, husband of Mrs. Susan Roark, San Diego; Marine Corps Sgt. William D. McClain, husband of Mrs. William D. McClain, Redondo Beach.
The Daily News, Camarillo, Thursday May 23, 1968
Area Paper obituary, 1968
Reid found a hand written note on the back of Richard's Air Medal commendations that said "583 total missions" and it looked like their dad's handwriting. Reid said, "He might have been on the phone with someone and jotted that down."
The Army awarded the basic medal, and 1 each oak leaf cluster thereafter for 25 missions. Richard received 23 OLCs, thus he had at least 575 missions and would have been working on his 24th Oak Leaf Cluster in order to have 583 missions. Note that this mission was to the American Embassy compound in Saigon and January 31, 1968 was the beginning of the TET Offensive. When Richard wrote home to tell Reid he was coming home in July instead of May 1968, he mentioned that he had flown a lot during the TET campaign and was thankful it was over.
The Distinguished Flying Cross was awarded to Richard for his role during one of his many combat and supply missions flown during the 1968 TET Offensive. This one happened on January 25, 1968.
Richard's Medals - From Upper Left to Right: Army Commendation Medal (ARCOM); Marksman Badge (Rifle Bar),
Purple Heart and DFC; Bottom: South Vietnam Military Merit Medal, South Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm,
Vietnam Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal and Air Medals with 23 Oak Leaf Clusters
The 191st AHC website has a poem by Melissa J Miller, daughter of Richard.
Richard was survived by his parents Dorothy Adele and Christian Alwin Weske, brother Reid (USN-RVN), and Grandmother, Mamie McLeod. Richard is buried at Conejo Mountain Memorial Park in Camarillo, California. His mother Dorothy passed away in 1987 from cancer and she is also in Conejo.
Richard's father passed away in 1991 and is buried in Riverside National Cemetery, Riverside California.
- - The Virtual Wall, June 28, 2016
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