Thank You For Your Service, Dick French
By Jan Barrett
Dick French married his high school sweetheart, Ronnie, in September of 1968, shortly after he completed Boot Camp in the United States Navy. They will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this year with a renewal of their Marriage vows, made complete by the attendance of their daughter, two grandchildren and lots of friends.
Dick and Ronnie grew up in LaSalle Colorado. He served in the Navy from 1968 through 1972. He was an electrician on the USS Tulare a.k.a. 212 cargo ship. They delivered cargo to various places including Vietnam, and also brought back soldiers who are returning home from foreign lands. Dick was an E5 second class electrician and was responsible for the internal alarm system, communication system, and Gyro system. As a young man who was raised in a small town he really enjoyed meeting the shipmates of different cultures and lifestyles.
The greatest danger to a ship is fire. Dick was sent to firefighting school for two days on Treasure Island in San Francisco. He recalled that they actually stood in fire during the classes. He said that was the only time he ever felt fear.
On one cruise they tried to out run a typhoon for three days, but when you are in a large vessel that can only go 20 miles an hour, it’s tough to do. The typhoon caught up with them and they had to ride it out for two more days. He said that was when he found out the true meaning of ‘batten down the hatches’.
The USS Tulare crossed the equator in 1971 and of course the ‘Line Crossing’ Ceremony was a must. Initiation was a daylong hazing for those who were not previously initiated, going from a Pollywog to a Shell Back. According to lore this ceremony dates back at least 400 years. It is considered a rite of passage to become a son or daughter of Neptune. It shows that you are seaworthy. If you would like more information about crossing the equator you will find it here.
Dick was honorably discharged from the Navy in 1972. He started college that same year and graduated with a marketing degree in 1975. He worked in sales for 35 years.
He and his wife Ronnie are very active at St Thomas More. Ronnie is a proclaimer and serves as an EM to those who are homebound. As a couple they work for St. Vincent de Paul as well as the arts and environment committee. Dick keeps himself busy these days by authoring books. He is working on book number six at this time. They chose St Thomas More, Dick tells me, because he was inspired by our music ministry and Steve Raml, our music director. If you don’t know who Dick French is, go by the choir at 5 PM mass on Saturdays and say hello to the guitar player.August 28, 2018