Richard Gene Welch
Richard Gene Welch was born March 10, 1929, in Salem, West Virginia. He graduated from Salem High School in 1947 and attended West Virginia University as a pre-med student.
While a student, “Dick” financed his education through work as social secretary under the director of student affairs, instructor in chemistry, and cafeteria and library worker. He was a member of Scabbard and Blade, Alpha Sigma Delta, Sigma Phi Epsilon, and an active member of the Young Men’s Christian Association. Dick graduated from West Virginia University in 1951 receiving a Bachelor of Science Degree in Pre-Medicine.
While at the university he had enrolled in the Reserve Officers Training Corps and upon entering active duty on August 8, 1951, received his second lieutenant’s commission. He trained at Fort Meade, Maryland, and Fort Benning, Georgia, after which he was sent to Japan in January 1952. He remained there for six months before being sent to Korea as a member of Company C, 180th Infantry Regiment, 45th Infantry Division, and served on the front lines beginning September 25, 1952.
According to his Bronze Star citation, on the evening of October 13, 1952, Lieutenant Welch was near Sameh-i-ryong, supervising improvements being made in defenses located immediately forward of the main allied lines located on Hill 854, in an area under enemy observation and only partially cleared of mines. Lieutenant Welch instructed his men in the proper method of laying napalm charges while taking extensive precautions to ensure their safety. After completion of this task he was leading his men across the treacherous terrain when he tripped on an anti-personnel mine and was fatally wounded.
The body of Second Lieutenant Richard Gene Welch was returned to the United States and interred in the Salem I.O.O. F. Cemetery. Lieutenant Welch was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star and on Memorial Day 1953 it was presented to his grandmother, Ida Welch, during a graveside ceremony.
West Virginia Archives and History welcomes any additional information that can be provided about these veterans, including photographs, family names, letters and other relevant personal history. For more information contact Constance Baston at (304) 558-0230.
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