Richard Max Pearl Memorial Page
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Wall Rubbing of Richard Max Pearl
Wall Rubbing courtesy of The Virtual Wall

RICHARD MAX PEARL was born on May 12, 1938 and joined the Armed Forces while in LORAIN, OH. On July 21, 1970, at the age of 32, RICHARD MAX PEARL perished in the service of our country at Phan Rang AB, Republic of Vietnam while assigned to the 1882nd Communications Squadron

You can find RICHARD MAX PEARL honored on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Panel 8W, Row 39.

Sgt Richard Max Pearl, 1882d Communications Squadron, Phan Rang AB, S. Vietnam, died from shrapnel wounds received during an enemy rocket attack on the base, 21 July 1970. He was on-duty, had been in Southeast Asia for 11 3/4 months, and was 32 years old. AFSC: 36150. - AFCA history office

Memorial Service Program

Memorial Service Program Courtesy of Ronald Dupre

That morning, we were shaving together in the latrine. I was kidding him about how short he was as he only had a few more days left incountry. A few hours later, I was in my office at the Red Rocket when I heard and felt the incredible blast that took Pearl's life. Shrapnel from the rocket penetrated into the revetments surrounding the Red Rocket as well as the BX. Later, I was amazed by how small the crater actually was. It was only about the size of half a soccer ball in breath and depth. That was some hard dirt. It took months for the crater to fill in again. I and many other guys working at the comm center walked by it everyday and thought of him. - Ronald Dupre

Sgt Pearl was our only antenna specialist and a good one too. I'm told he was killed in July 1970 near the BX on his way to the Comm Bldg clearing the base to come home. A damn shame. - Chief Bill Bethea

Sgt Pearl was leaving the BX with his new suitcase, a day or two before rotating and took a direct hit from a rocket or mortar. The explosion blew out one side of the BX wall. - John McCormack

I went to school with Richard. He was perhaps the most positive person I have ever known. We lost touch after HS graduation. He lived right across the street from Irving, Jr. High School and we would sometimes eat lunch at his home. A damn shame a person has to die when, undoubtedly, his hopes were high. - Jerry Beingesser

After finishing my 12 hour shift at the Red Rocket Express myself and John Gaston had walked up to the BX Restaurant and were sitting on the patio when we heard (what we thought) was a slow moving helicopter pass overhead. A fraction of a second later the explosion almost blew us out of our seats. Moments later did we realize what it was. We did not know until later that the 1882CS has suffered a tragic loss. I remember this as if it happened yesterday. - Alan T. Winters

I was a young SP on duty that day, and remember it well as I arrived just after SGT Pearl was evacuated. I thought of him everytime I walked by that area from then to DEROS, and have thought about the tragedy ever since..being so "short", the loss of a good man, and the unpredictability of life. His death, even though I didn't know him personally, actually was one factor that guided my life over the years in that I found the inspiration to live life fully, do my best, and make sure that my loved ones always heard me say, "I love you" when I left for any reason. Imagine my surprise to see his tribute on your website, which I was just browsing through. You have a terrific website and I'm glad I stopped by.
Neal H. Trent III, PhD, ABPP, FACCP
Colonel (R), US Army
Director, Behavioral Medicine Program
Family Medicine Residency Center - CRDAMC
May God save the Republic.........

I was at Phan Rang the day Sgt Pearl was killed, we were leaving the chow hall on the way to check our mail. We heard a sound of a rocket and ran Into bunkers. I looked up over my head and saw the rocket in the air maybe 50 feet over my head. - Charlie Randall Boston MA

I was eating eating beakfast in the snack bar the the morning Richard Pearl was taken from us. Heard the rocket go over and saw it land just a few feet from him. Most terrible day of the year. - Don Winfrey

Lorain Couple's Only Son Killed in Viet by Rocket

By Tom Oney
Staff Writer

Richard Pearl would have been home from South Vietnam this week. Monday his parents received his letter stating he would be on his way home "a few days after you receive this letter."

YESTERDAY morning as Mr. and Mrs. Pincus Pearl of 2308 South Jefferson Blvd., Lorain were getting ready to go to work, an Air Force representative told them that their only child had been killed.

"He had been counting the months, the days. I was so happy when I got his letter Monday." said the mother of the 32-year-old Air Force sergeant. "It's something when all your hopes and dreams are gone."

She talked in a state of shock. Her eyes were constantly wandering and voice wavering.

"He was a telephone cable antenna specialist." she began. "He enlisted in 1960 and went all over the world. But this was his first year in Vietnam.

"He got out of the service in 1964, and worked for General Telephone Co in California. He re-enlisted in 1966, and was told he wouldn't be sent to Vietnam." she said.

"I can't believe it." her husband muttered. "I never thought it would happen to him. He was a non-combatant. He was in charge of the alert system on the base and not allowed to leave." he said.

The letter brought to their doorstep read. in part:

"...was killed in action in South Vietnam on July 21 as the result of injuries received in a rocket attack on Phan Rang Air Base... He was walking in the base exchange parking lot when an incoming rocket round impacted approximately 25 feet from him. He was struck by flying shrapnel..."

"I advised him not to go over," said his father. "He didn't want to go to Vietnam. They told him when he re-enlisted he wouldn't have to go. And then he got a letter that said he was the only squadron that could do the work and he had to go."

"He wanted to make the Air Force a career." said his mother. "I used to get a letter every 10 days or two weeks from him. Then we didn't get a letter for three weeks. Monday his letter came and yesterday the other one did." she said.

The Lorain High graduate is survived by his parents, and wife Lisa of Sacramento, Calif. Funeral arrangements are incomplete.

Hometown article courtesy of David Jaynes

I remember this date like it was yesterday. In fact every July 21, I say a prayer for Sergeant Pearl. I was assigned to the 14th Special Operations Wing. I had just been dropped off some secret messages at your office for you guys to send out to our FOL. I had a dental appointment at about 13:00 hours so I had a little time to spend. I remember leaving the tailor shop and was walking up that little incline path that lead up to the the main road. I was at the exact spot moments before Sergeant Pearl met his fate. It could not has been five minutes walking distance when I heard that all to familiar sound of the incoming 82mm mortar round. Such a hugh explosion to have left such a little hole in the ground. In fact I looked up and saw it hit near Sergeant Pearl. I was too stunned to do anything but take cover. I was debriefed by base Intel and have recurring nightmares to this date over this incident. Because 5 minutes earlier and you would be writing my memorial as well. My sincerest condolences to his family and friends.

Sergeant Gary B Barrows
14th Special Operations Squadron
Phan Rang AFB, South Viet Nam
If you knew Sgt Pearl and would like to leave a comment please contact me. - Gary Chandler

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