Colonel Richard C. Rich (Retired), 73, formerly of Boise, Idaho, passed away suddenly January 3, 2012, in Bellingham, Washington.
Col. Rich began his military service with the U.S. Marines when he enlisted in the 44th Special Rifle Company in 1955. An expert marksman, he distinguished himself on the rifle range, starting with the M-1 rifle. During his first tour of duty in Vietnam in 1968, he served with the 5th Marines in combat, first as the commanding officer of Company A, 1st Battalion, then later as a battalion S-3 for 3rd Battalion. Wounded, when protecting a bridge south of Hue City, Col. Rich received the Bronze Star with Combat “V,” along with the Purple Heart.
During his second tour in Vietnam, he was a negotiator with a Four Party Joint Military Team. His mission was to negotiate for the MIA/POW Program. Later, Col. Rich serve at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium where he was assigned as deputy assistant director on the International Military Staff.
Highly decorated during his outstanding career, Col. Rich also received the National Defense Service Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Republic of Vietnam Meritorious Unit Citation Civil Action Color (w/Palm & Frame and w/ one Gold Star), Combat Action Ribbon, Vietnam Service medal (w/ three Stars), Letter of Commendation (2nd Award), Overseas Service Ribbon (w/ two Stars), Defense Superior Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal (w/ two Oak Leaf Clusters), Vietnam Staff Service Honor Medal, Air Force Organizational Excellence Award, and Legion of Merit. Col. Rich (having received a Pistol Expert Badge (5th Award) firmly believed that “the rifleman is the backbone of the Marine Corps, no matter what job you have you are still considered a rifleman and the Corps has always been and still is the finest of the services due to the individual Marine.”
A graduate of Boise High School, Rich went on to receive his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Idaho State University in Pocatello, a Master’s degree in International Affairs at Georgetown University, Washington D.C., and attended the Naval War College in 1972 and 1983.
Following his retirement from the Marine Corps, where he served for 30 years, Col. Rich and his wife Shirley, both lovers of the sea, purchased a 38-foot sailing vessel named Serendipity and spent many a happy hour sailing the coast of California and eventually setting sail for Mexico from Southern California. After exploring Mexico from Cabo San Lucas to Mazatlan and up the Sea of Cortez they moved to the Idaho Mountains and settled into Meadows Valley. Wanting to be on the water again, a move was made to Blaine, Washington where they purchased a 38-foot trawler (which Richard aptly named “Esprit”) and continued their cruising adventures through the San Juan and Canadian Gulf Islands.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Shirley Rich; sons Darren Rich (Edmonds, WA) and Mark Rich (Boise, ID); stepsons Jerry Fraker (Santa Rosa, CA) and Chris Fraker (Denton, TX); brother Don Rich (Orinda, CA); grandsons Ian Rich and Joshua Fraker; granddaughters Morgan and Sidney Rich; cousins David and Linda Hawk (Boise, ID); and niece, Katie Rich (Orinda, CA).
The celebration of this life will be at Summers Funeral Home, Boise Chapel in Boise, Idaho, the town where Col. Rich was raised. The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. on Friday, January 13, and the internment will follow at The Idaho State Veterans Cemetery in Boise at 3 p.m.
In lieu of flowers donations can be made in his honor to the Wounded Warriors Fund. Semper Fi.