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THE RARE BREED
Recognizing Area Veterans Of World War II

Joe Richards flight instructor
for single engine fighter pilots


FLIGHT instructor Joe Richards
in P-51 fighter plane.

Joe E. Richards, son of John W. and Roberta Partain Richards, was born in Palacios on Aug. 12, 1923. A 1941 graduate of Palacios High School, he had gone to California and was working at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank at the time of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

In December of 1942, Richards became an Aviation Cadet in the U. S. Army Air Corps at San Antonio. He won his wings and commission at Napier Field, Alabama, graduated from the Central Flight Instructor's School at Randolph Field, San Antonio and Aerial and Ground Gunnery School at Eglin Field, Fla.

Throughout the war, Richards was stationed stateside, serving as flight instructor at advanced single engine schools for fighter pilots. He also trained in the P-40 and P-51 fighter planes. Detached from Napier Field, he received his discharge in 1945 at Camp Shelby, Miss.

Upon his return to civilian life, Richards received the following Letter of Appreciation, dated Oct. 15, 1945, from Col. Charles B. Stewart, commanding officer of the AAF Pilot School at Napier Field:

"1. It is my desire to convey to you sincere congratulations on a job well done. The flying skill that you have instilled in your students who have gone into combat and have made this victory of ours possible reflects greatly to your loyalty, initiative, and sincere devotion to duty.

"2. Even though you yourself have never had the opportunity to meet the enemy face to face, you have made it possible for dozens and dozens of other pilots to do so. Every time one of your students shot down an enemy aircraft or strafed an enemy airdrome or won a victory over the enemy, it was your flying ability and flying technique that made this possible because he was doing the job the way you had taught him to.

"3. Your job in World War Two will always be remembered and be appreciated by free people all over the world."

Richards will celebrate his 79th birthday next Monday. He and his wife, the former Patsy "Pat" Claybourn--whom he had met in Palacios when he returned home from California in December of 1941­ were married in 1944, while he was in service.

Residents of El Campo, Joe and Pat have a daughter, Sherilyn Perilloux, owner of Sunshine Laundry & Cleaners; and a son, Joe H. Richards, assistant manager of Sunshine Laundry & Cleaners. They also have four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.


JOE and Patsy "Pat" Claybourn Richards, on 55th wedding anniversary.
They were married Sept. 11, 1944.


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