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Cape Gazette • Covering Delaware's Cape Region | Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Veterans of USS Rich gather for reunion in the Cape Region
By Jim Cresson
At a time when many Americans have sharp eyes on the war in Iraq and a renewed spirit of supporting their loved ones in uniform, a group of former Navy veterans reunited in Rehoboth Beach to talk about their shared service and exchange stories from their time on the destroyer USS Rich.

Georgetown businessman Harry Marker, who served aboard the Rich from 1966-68 as a communications specialist/radio man while the destroyer was providing offshore fire power for troops in Vietnam, hosted the tenth annual reunion of USS Rich veterans. More than 120 former sailors and officers and their wives traveled from 13 states to the Heritage Inn at Midway, where they spent April 10-13 touring, meeting and sharing stories from their service days.


Above, USS Rich veteran sailors (l-r) Dave Dore of South Carolina,  Marshall DuBois of Florida and L.E. Beeman of North Carolina shared a "highly enjoyable tenth reunion in the Cape Region, April 10-13.  Below right, photos of the USS Rich, which was commissioned the DD/DDE820 in May 1945, show the destroyer after it went its major modernization in 1967.  It served in the Korean War, Vietnam War and the Cold War.  Below left, the Hunter/Killer logo of the USS Rich emphasizes both roles it played: as an antisubmarine destroyer in the Atlantic Fleet during the Cold War and as a battle destroyer that saw duty in Korea and Vietnam.

The Rich was built in Texas and commissioned as the Navy’s DD/DDE820 in May 1945. It was stationed out of Florida for a while and later out of Norfolk, Va. and was an integral part of the Atlantic Fleet. It saw service in the Korean War, Vietnam War and extensive service as an antisubmarine destroyer during the Cold War. After a mid-sea collision with another ship in 1967, DD/DDE820 was underwent a $10 million modernization and served until it was decommissioned in 1977.

The veteran sailors and officers who journeyed to the Cape Region for their reunion served at different times on the ship and each had different stories to tell. As reunion organizer Marshal K. DuBois of Florida noted: “Even though we didn’t serve together, when a veteran tells his story about the Rich, all of us can relate to it.”

Veteran L.E. Beeman of North Carolina, a former officer aboard the Rich, had this humorous assessment of the reunions: “We tell the same old war stories, only differently, each time we meet. I love it.”

One veteran brought his 4-foot-long, 18-inch tall handmade model of the 390-foot ship armed with six 5-inch artillery guns, 12 40-mm canons, 11 20 mm canons and 10 21-inch torpedoes. Others brought their old ship-board photos. One veteran who served at the Rich’s commissioning, brings his ceremonial plank to each reunion.

“We had an absolutely fantastic time here,” said Marker. “Who could have asked for anything better. The Heritage Inn showed us its heritage. Every room in the hotel has a red, white and blue decor. They treated us like royalty. Local businesses contributed generously to our auction and the event itself. The folks at the BayCenter gave us a great dinner and dance. It was a memorable reunion.”

Next year the Rich veterans will meet in Ohio. For more information on the USS Rich and its veteran group, visit

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