USS BARB (SS 220).   
Shaken, marked, repaired.  By the end of the war
Barb was firing deck rockets on land targets.
Jim Richard, fall 1945,  upon being presented
the Navy Silver Star at conclusion of the USS
Barb's Twelfth, and last, War Patrol.  
USS BARB (SS 220).   
Shaken, marked, repaired.  By the end of the war
Barb was firing deck rockets on land targets.
Jim Richard, fall 1945,  upon being presented
the Navy Silver Star at conclusion of the USS
Barb's Twelfth, and last, War Patrol.  
Jim Richard was born and raised in Taft, growing up on a Standard Oil
lease (33G) and in a small home in Valley Acres.  The first of four
siblings, he graduated from Taft Union High School in 1942.  He played
football for one semester at Bakersfield College, then joined the U.S.

His is an unusual story of huge energy mixed with purpose, skill,
intelligence, achievement and a nice portion of good luck.  His wife
Helen, and children Yvette, Bernadette, Jim Jr., Tim and Suzette said
goodbye to Jim in October 2005.  My good fortune is in getting to say
hello to him by drawing upon their recollections, letters and
conversations to create this story.

Jim is buried in Arlington National Cemetery  
Jim Richard. Grade School Photo.  He is in the
back row, last boy on the right.
Jim Richard is my cousin, my mother, Claire Dugas' nephew, and he grew up in
Taft with three siblings,Tony, Bill and Sylvia.  Jim’s father, Harold and his
mother, Eloise Dugas, met when the Dugas' traveled from Taft to visit friends
in Jennings, Louisiana

Harold had graduated from Jesuit High School in Jennings and taken some
college work. Eloise had graduated from Taft High School and 4Cs Business

Although Eloise was engaged to a Mr. Triplett, Harold eventually  persuaded
her to break the engagement and marry him.

The children came in rapid order, Jim, October 1924; Tony, August 1926; Bill,
January 1928; Sylvia, October 1933.

Harold had worked briefly for his father-in-law, Evrard Dugas, then gained a
job with Standard Oil  in its natural gas plant at 1C.  He worked rotating shifts
(8-4; 4-12; 12-8), and his sleep patterns had to adjust to a different time frame
every two weeks. When he slept during the day, one rule controlled the
household.  Don't awaken dad!

Harold was a strict father, using a razor strap or switches to administer
discipline, but at the same time, he taught the boys about responsibility, bills
and credit.  He would loan Tony and Bill money to purchase chicks (penny
each) which they raised from feed purchased on credit at the feed store.  
When the chicks matured, Harold and the boys slaughtered and cleaned them,
sold them to O.E. Hall, the meat cutter, and then paid their bills to Harold and
the feed store.  They kept the profits.

Bill kept accounts and Tony always trusted him.

By the time the war with Japan began, in December 1941, the war among the
Richard siblings had been pretty much settled.  When I was a young boy, 13
years younger than Jim, my mother would comment about her sister Eloise’s
“boys”.  They were smart, adventuresome, ruthless and combative. They knew
about slaughtering raised animals, hunting squirrels and generally “getting
into trouble”.  They dug "forts" under the sandy earth and survived.  Jim and
Tony climbed the oil derrick near their home to throw handkerchiefs
"parachutes" and watch them float down.  They fought because that was the
way they settled things.  

Tony remembers that Bill was the most stubborn, but he was also the
youngest. When Jim wanted him to stay behind, he would pick him up and put
him barefoot in the middle of a sticker patch.  Bill never hollared when he was
"switched", but he could not escape a sticker patch.

On the other hand, when Tony got into a fight with Jim, defending Bill, he hit
him and then climbed to the top of the highest tree nearby.  "He couldn't get to
me so long as I was above him," Tony remembered.  In short, they were boys
and busy ones at that.

The Richard boys knew things I didn't know.  Tony and Bill taught me how to
shoot squirrels, though I seldom hunted.   Tony taught me that when you
"have to make an effort to go see a girl, break up with her because you are
really no longer interested".  I remembered that.  The modern idiom is "he is
just not that into you".

Bill taught me to work on my car, another disagreeable task which I hated to
do, but still, he taught me.  After my father died, he took time to take Joseph
and me out rabbit hunting and generally tried to be a presence in our lives.

Still, the stories of the Richard boys seemed to always center on what Jim was
doing.  He was the first born son; he knew his way around guns and he had a
certain edge to his personality, as befitted a boy who was a descendant of
Jean Lafitte.

Tony reports that when Jim was about six years old, living out on 33G, he
watched a group of oilmen working on a rig nearby.  In the course of his
interaction with them, one of them took Jim's hat and "passed it around" to
the other guys, playing keep-away.

Jim went back to the house, brought back his father’s shotgun, and in their
sight, broke the barrel open, loaded two shells and said, “I want my hat!”  
He got it.  
That story lived in the lore of Standard Oil (now Chevron) into the 1970s.

He once broke a hand from landing “knuckle” sandwiches on Bill's head (“Jim
got what he deserved” said Eloise). Bill remembers more clearly being hit in
the forehead so hard the blow broke Jim's ring. Today, Jim's son, Tim,
remembers that his father still liked to rap him on the head with knuckles.  It
wasn't extremely painful, reported Tim, "but it got your attention".

And there were injuries.  Jim once threw Bill onto a coffee can in their rough
housing, a can which was empty but which still had the sharp edge left after
one "twisted" the metal off which held the lid in place.  The bleeding was so
bad, they had to awaken their father, Harold, from his sleep, a dangerous thing
to do.  But this time, he merely looked at the blood flow, tore a strip from his
bedsheet, wrapped the wound arm firmly and told Bill he would be fine.  He
was, and he has the scar today to prove it.
Jim, Helen and Family
After a year long “visit” with his grandparents in Louisiana, at age ten, Jim came
home "spoiled" and more difficult than ever.  He was no longer interested in
raising animals or following any disciplined lifestyle and that was a problem.  
Eloise more or less just gave up on him, and Harold tried more than usual to
counsel him, and while the two were always close, Jim's "wild ways" became
more and more adventuresome.

Tony recounts that Jim told him about one contact with my father, Dick Snyder,
then a member of the Taft Police Department.  Dad was patrolling down Center
St. when he looked across from the Hippodrome Theatre (now the Fox) and saw
Jim Richard hanging out on a corner, sitting on a fire hydrant. This would have
been in about 1940-41, when Jim was 16.

My dad pulled up next to him, opened the patrol car door, reached out and just
grasped him by his shirt and lifted him up and sat him down in the patrol car.  "I
think you should ride with me for awhile tonight," my dad said, "you look like you
are looking for trouble".  Jim told that story with great glee, especially since my
father lifted him so easily with just a single, straight arm.

Jim's dominance of his brothers was so unrelenting and threatening that Bill, the
youngest, finally had enough.  He loaded a .22 rifle, and walked out through the
kitchen to find Jim and kill him.  Fortunately, Eloise caught him in the kitchen and
disarmed him. It was the first of Jim’s narrow escapes.  

I can sympathize with this story, because I tormented my brother Joseph so
much, he once took a 10" butcher knife and came after me. I ran 'cause I could
tell by the look in his eye that he meant business.  

One of Tony's keen remembrances is that the supper table was usually filled with
talk about family, religion, and general issues of the day, and when it got around
to the possibility of spending money, the discussion would end if and when
Harold said, "there's no money for that." There was never any doubt, said Tony,
"about who ran the family."

I knew Harold as a loving uncle who cared for us (my brother and sisters) with
great tenderness following the death of my father in 1948.  He provided a
shoulder for my mother to cry on and a home away from home for the family
when the stresses of my father’s gradual decline were the greatest. He could
remove a splinter or an ingrown toenail with patience and delicate care. He
shared his butterfly collection, made sure we had a box of .22 shells at
Thanksgiving, and somehow always made me feel safe.

But with three boys as competitive as Jim, Tony and Bill, Harold was a force to
be reckoned with.  His razor strap was a common additive to admonitions about
improving behavior.  He would regularly ask the boys to go get the switch which
he was then going to use on their legs.  Bill refused to cry or shout or show
pain.  "Shout early and often", advised Tony, "and he will quit sooner".  

Joseph, Rosalie and I enjoyed a few meals with the family after Jim, Tony and Bill
were raised and out of the house, leaving Sylvia as our "hostess".  She was as
dominant toward us as I was toward my siblings, and the pecking order seemed
natural and inevitable, if disagreeable.  But even Sylvia felt the glow of the razor
strap on one incredible occasion when she crossed some kind of line.  Joseph
and I did not know what she had done, but we saw the price she was paying and
feared we would be next.  We weren't.

One evening at a meal with Uncle Harold, my sister Rosalie took a dislike to
mutton being served.  She refused to sample it.  Harold's Rule: you tried a little of
everything, and ate all of what you put on your plate.  Rosalie refused.  After
some minor discussion, she made it clear that she was not eating.

Harold said nothing more.  He took her to his bathroom, got his razor strap and
administered two or three licks to Rosalie's bottom.  I asked her later in life if she
remembered all of this.  She said she did, and I asked her if she then ate her
mutton, because I could not remember.

Rosalie said to me, "oh, yes! I ate it, and then I asked for more".

Life in the home of Harold and Eloise Richard was close to the bone and full of
the pride of the French, as I have come to observe.  When WW II came along, I
was preoccupied with what war meant and what it might mean for our family.  My
father calmed me by saying that I was not to worry, "America always won its
wars".  That helped, but I was distraught to see him in tears in 1945 when
drafted, forcing him to leave his family for the last few months of the war.

But by then, the Richard family had three young men all serving in the US Navy.   
Jim, being the oldest, was the first.  So, between 1943 and 1945, much of the
conversation about the war in my family often made reference to “where Jim
was”, where his submarine might be, and “hope to God that he is all right”.  At
the end of the war, when all the “boys” came home, I remember hearing that Jim
had earned The Silver Star.

Jim's Silver Star meant very little to me other than it was a good thing for him and
for his family. I had not a clue to the events which generated that award, nor the
achievements that Jim had posted in his life path at such an early age.

I do remember being in Harold's kitchen after the war, 1946, when he and Jim
were discussing the best way to prepare and cook abalone.  It was just a gentle,
adult exploration of alternatives.  I remember this conversation so clearly, I think,
because it may have been the first time I had ever heard a father and a son have
discussion which was not dominated by “father authority/child submissiveness”.  
They spoke as equals…two adults.

After marrying Helen Slentz of Taft in 1946, Jim worked for Standard Oil Company
as a mechanic/machinist until 1950 when the Navy recalled him for the Korean
War.  He was glad to go and continued to serve the Navy in a series of rapidly
expanding responsibilities and ascent in rank until his retirement in 1974, after
which he took up private work for QED Corporation in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
Harold, my sister Joyce, (b. 1946) left and Rosalie, right.  
By this time, Rosalie had learned  to eat mutton.
On Left:   In this photo, taken in 1938, I am about a year old. My mother, Claire Dugas,
Jim's aunt, is not yet pregnant with Joseph.  One can see how my father might have
lifted Jim up and in the police car with a single, extended arm.  
On Right: my brother, Joseph, chose the Air Force, but he knew how to wield a knife,
just like a pirate.  See below.  
Jim and his father, Harold, in the vegetable garden.  The well behind them is Well 22,
which shed the tag found by Bill when we visited this site in August of 2009.
The scar from the coffee can incident can be seen on Bill's forearm.  It is a yellow line
in the center;  Above right is a casing cap from a 12 guage shotgun not unlike the one
Jim used to get his hat back.  Well #22 is seen below.
In front of the lease house, 33G.  Jim and Tony on the far left,
would climb the rig behind to throw handkerchief parachutes off of
the top.  Bill, in the center was sometimes left behind in a sticker
patch.  The cactus in the pot is similar to the very large one that
grows at this site today and may be the original planting yet to be
put into the ground.
He says, "I should have married her".
Many submariners grew beards to save water while on patrol. Many also wore a ear
ring in the earlobe, as Jim does here, in picture on right, to symbolize  their
connection to pirates.  Usually two guys would buy a set and divide them.  Jim later
bought the twin to this blue sapphire from his shipmate, and Yvette, Bernadette and
Suzette each wore them when they married.
Jim Richard
first born son of a first born son

first male in family to graduate from Taft Union High School

first in family to enlist in service, WW II

first in his diesel mechanic's class at University of Missouri

first and only team of armed Americans (8) to invade
Japanese territory during W.W. II

first Taft resident in enlisted rank to receive US Silver Star

first (GPA) in his nuclear power plant class.  

first enlisted man to qualify as Chief Operator of the nuclear
plant aboard a submarine.  

first Nuclear Naval Quality Control Officer

first to direct upkeep and nuclear repair on the first Nuclear
Submarine “USS NAUTILUS”

first to design flucto-cleaning techniques for circulating
sanitary pipes aboard ships

first to serve four submarines which each made a quantum
leap in submarine weaponry

USS BARB first to launch rockets to land targets
USS CUSK, first to launch a guided missile
USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, first to fire a ballistic missile
USS NAUTILUS, first nuclear powered submarine and first to
transit the North Pole

Jim Richard pursued many paths in life.  Among them were a
lot of first cuts.
Jim’s visits to Taft were infrequent. Helen did not like to fly, and it is a
long drive from Virginia to California, but occasionally they made the
trek.  As I came to both feel and understand, their marriage was a
continuing love story, the kind a lot of Taft kids dream about.  They
both felt immediately attracted to one another, survived separation, the
war and a rocky courtship.  A year after the war ended, they married
and unless the Navy intervened, they were inseparable.  They raised
five children and forged a maturing bond which seem to deepen every

In the spring of 2004, they drove out to California to visit family and
friends. By this time, I too had returned to Taft/Bakersfield following a
lifetime of teaching at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and so I
asked Jim if he would like to have lunch with me and with his brother
Bill, who also lives in Bakersfield.  He agreed, and so we all went out to
eat one day.

It was a wonderful visit in that Jim seemed very free in his
conversation.  Bill had told me that he was pretty non-communicative
about his Navy career, in part, I believe, because a huge amount of it
was classified, and in part because Jim did not like talking about

But we asked questions, and he had answers, giving his brother insight
and information that he had never enjoyed.  I had purchased and read

Thunder Below
, a book written by Admiral Eugene Fluckey, Jim’s
commanding officer on the USS Barb during W.W. II, and I had some
questions which were pretty elementary, but I received what were to me
wonderful little nuggets of information.

A year after Jim and Helen returned to Virginia Beach from this visit,
Jim began to fail from emphysema and heart congestion.  He died
September 10, 2005 and was buried in Arlington Cemetery.  

Likely my visit with Jim in 2004 would have put the period on the story
of what I knew about him.  But when Pete Gianopulos mentioned in his
Weekly Newsletter an item about Jim Richard and Jim’s reply to an
inquiry for his 50th Class Reunion in 1992, I asked to see a copy.  

Pete was very kind in sending it to me and reading it provoked a lot of
new questions and appreciation for Jim’s career.  I asked his sister,
Sylvia for email addresses so I could contact Jim’s children, (Yvette,
Bernadette, Jim Jr., Tim, and Suzette).  Soon after, I wrote to a friend, “I
hit the mother lode”.

Jim’s son, Tim, had also entered the Navy, served aboard the nuclear
submarine USS Lapon, (1987-1995) and had enjoyed many
conversations with his father about World War II.  Tim had a detailed
and intimate portrait of Jim's many interests and his life apart from the
US Navy.   

I told Tim that I was interested in fleshing out Jim’s story for a "web
story" that I could present to the family, and he was enthusiastically
supportive of the project.

From Tim, I have been able to tap the framework of his father's life.  As
may be the case with every person, the more one learns, the more there
is to appreciate, to admire and finally to reflect upon.  What follows in
these pages is my sketch of the remembrances, data, records, letters
and conversations that Jim Richard generated with his son, Tim, with
his wife, Helen, and with his siblings Bill and Tony.

More information came from Admiral Fluckey’s writings, some
incredibly preserved movie/clips of some of Jim’s training and the
Barb's reconnaissance of Japanese trains, as well a private, secret
diary/log that Jim kept for each of his six War Patrols aboard the USS

I think you will see that the substance of Jim Richard's life is the
product of an unusual combination of forces each of which was  
admirable in its own right.  

His energy, aggressiveness, and intelligence finally bonded with
discipline because of the US Navy and because of his love for his wife,
Helen.   His curiosity, his ability to command and his skill in
imaginatively marrying knowledge to challenge were features of his
person and his intellect.  He brought these characteristics to a long life
which was laced with challenges in the workplace, earmarked with love
for his family and widely admired  by his peers.   

So enjoy.
Left to Right: Jim, Yvette, Helen, Suzette
(youngest), Bernadette, Tim, Jim jr.
TONY AND JIM, MAY 15, 1941
4 years older than
Eloise and Harold Richard
Eloise and Bill with
Harold's STAR coupe  at
Family lore had it that Eloise drove it so
fast around 11C that the company put up
speed limit signs...of 10 mph.