Richard Elmo Hood
West Point, 1966
Be Thou At Peace
Posted by Richard Nichols on March 31, 2014:
Richard was a friend of mine. We grew up together. We go back to when we were in Scouts together and even were tent mates on at least one camping trip. We also belonged to the same church and went to many events with other of our friends. Of course we were classmates in school. Richard was Student Body President in our senior year and at my request put me on the one of the school's student committees -- it was a group of guys with no real responsibility but with a high profile in the school, he was just being a friend. Later Richard got a sports car, I think as a graduation present from his parents, and he was very protective of it. Once when, as high school guys were often want to do, we were out cruising -- at the time we called it "just riding around" - I was surprised when he offered to let me drive it for a while. The memory is still vivid to me as I drove around Lake Martha towards the golf course on the way to Jack's, the local hangout.
Richard when away to West Point and I went to FSU. We would catch up occasionally when we were both home. I was in Army ROTC and later was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant. While at summer camp at Fort Bragg before being commissioned I met a 3rd lieutenant on duty there and asked about Richard. The fellow didn't know him but the event stuck in my mind.
Later when I was on active duty, I was home on leave between assignments and I learned of Richard's death. Killed In Action in Viet Nam. I went with my mother to pay respects to Richard's mother (my mother and his mother were also friends.) I attended Richard's burial in uniform and was one of a few people other than family who was able to pay respects at that time.
A few months later I received my orders to go to Viet Nam, and went home on leave. It was a poignant time for me after being at Richard's funeral. I visited his grave out of respect for his sacrifice. I was station in Pleiku. Once I travelled by road from Qui Nhon on the coast back to Pleiku and passed by An Khe and the 173rd Base Camp. Fortunately for me the trip was a safe one, but I was impressed by the Meng Yang Pass and the effort of American troops to protect that vital pass.
I attend as many of my high school reunions as I can and always think of Richard at that time. On one of those return trips home, I visited Richard's grave with my wife. I did this out of loyalty to a friend who suffered much by doing what was expected of him. Perhaps I still see parts of myself in Richard Hood. I think many of his high school friends would agree even if recognizing it only in retrospect. Even in death, he leads by example.
Richard Hood was a good man; he accepted his responsibilities and did his duty. I am proud to call him friend and wish he had lived to enjoy a full and prosperous life.
But now, may he rest in peace. The thumping sound of a Huey, the crack of gunfire and the thud of incoming mortars will not disturb his eternal sleep. Pain is gone and the light is always before him.
We are all the better for having known Richard Hood. May God Bless Him. May God Bless Us All.
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