World War II, Sp 4 pay level E-4
Quartermaster, 295th quartermaster, Salvage battalion - The term quartermaster comes from a 17th century term "quartiermeister" and initially denoted a court official with the duty of repairing the monarch's sleeping quarters. In the U.S. military the term quartermaster is used in two occupations: one for the Army and one for the Navy. The title in the Army refers to an individual soldier or unit who specializes in distributing supplies and provisions to troops. The senior unit, post or base supply officer is customarily titled the quartermaster.
Quartermaster units in World War II - The areas covered by the quartermaster units during World War II were supply, general articles, aerial delivery, clothing and equipment, graves registration and field services.
Richard J. Husch, U.S. Army
Married - his high school sweetheart Mary Jean (Wilson) in November 1946. The ceremony was held at the Baptist church in Fredonia.
Children - Gail, Sally, Nancy and David
Grandchildren - Christine, Haylie, Lynsly and Jeff
Richard J. Husch was born on December 23, 1922, in his home. He was the son of Joseph and Elizabeth (Davison). His family resided on Light Street in the city. Later Light Street was renamed Point Drive North. Richard's father, Joe was a jack-of-all-trades with a talent for fixing things. Many that knew Joe never heard him say, "That can't be done!"
Richard lost his father when he was only 9 years old. Richard's mother now had to raise the family herself and support it. Richard recalls that his mother always had food on the table and made sure his clothes were clean. In winter the home was always warm. So incredible was Mom that at Christmas, there was always a gift for him.
School 5 was just a few blocks away from home and that is where Richard began his education. Richard claimed he had trouble in his younger years at School 5 and later found classes easier and more exciting at the Dunkirk Junior High. Before he knew it, Richard was in high school. He was now with the big kids and he was growing up.
Loving sports, Richard played football and volleyball. He was very excited about football. The field was full of more than 100 boys trying out. It was hard to make the team and get a uniform. Trying his best landed him one of the 24 uniforms issued. As for volleyball, it was the same - so many boys wanting to make the team. Hard work also paid off, and Richard made the varsity volleyball team. He enjoyed the matches in Jamestown, Salamanca and the biggest between Fredonia.
He graduated in June of 1941. Summer was starting, and every now and then one read about some Hitler guy causing all kinds of trouble in Europe. A diploma in hand, the world was Richard's.
At that time a person needed to be 18 to land a decent job. Richard received a call from Dunkirk's Alco plant asking him if he would like a position. It took less than a second before a yes reply came, and he was off to work. The next day, arriving at the plant, Richard was shown the office where he would begin his duties. He later found out he was recommended by a family friend, Mr. Morgestine.
Richard's duties in the payroll office were running the addressograph machine, printing checks and issuing payroll checks. The plant employed more than 400 employees, and depending on the government contracts that were on the board, the numbers were close to, if not over, the 500 mark. Richard pointed out this was all done before the computer age. All the payroll was done by hand. Even with all the employees, mistakes were few, which kept the work force happy.
At times, contracts having designated completion dates caused many overtime hours. This meant extra calculating to keep the books straight. All the payroll was done by Richard's office. Richard thought Alco was a great place to work. The superintendent had a great open door policy, and any new idea was listened to and used. This also kept his work force happy.
Richard stayed with Alco until 1943 when he decided it was his time to serve his country. Richard walked to the end of Light Street and wanted to enlist in the Coast Guard at the Navy's training center, but this dream ended when "rejected for medical reasons" was stamped on the front of his chart. It was a long, sad walk home.
A few days later, his number came up for the draft. Again another walk was made to the Naval Training Center. A few weeks later, after filling out all the papers and another medical exam, this time much longer, Richard was signed into the United States Army. This time he was happy not only to be accepted and labeled fit to join, he also saw he would be going with friends he grew up with.
The bus taking the group to boot camp was loaded with friends: Dan Vehuge, Joey Tofil, Alva Hunt and Harry Cudizilo. The trip to Fort Niagara started at Dunkirk's Lake Shore Drive. As the bus drove toward Buffalo, there was a lot of reminiscing about swimming off the dock and going to Candyland and Point Gratiot.
No one yet knew where and what the future year would bring. There were even thoughts of this possibly being the very last time to see Dunkirk. The bus arrived at Fort Niagara in Niagara Falls. Here the civilian was turned into an Army soldier, giving him the right to carry a rifle.
Doing well for the next 10 weeks meant that one would receive a job that carries other responsibilities. From Niagara the entire group was sent to Fort Sutton in North Carolina to complete the final weeks of their boot camp training. Here at camp, Richard was trained in all the Army's small arm weapons, the M1 rifle machine gun and hand grenades.
Next duty took him to Base General Depot in San Bernadino, Calif. Here he was assigned to the battalion's salvage battalion. Upon completion of training Richard was ordered back east. The orders read "Report to Boston, Mass. to embarkation dock to take passage on the HMS Queen Mary."
While in Boston, Richard received a one-day pass, which he spent at the nearest dog track. The Queen Mary's voyage took Richard to South Hampton. After a two-day stop, she sailed to Liverpool and then through the English channel. Because the channel was so rough, a list of 269 soldiers were registered sea sick.
No convoy was needed for the Queen because of her speed. When he arrived at his final destination, Richard reported and was given orders to the 259th quartermaster, a salvage unit issuing shoes and clothing.
The following months of the war took Richard and his unit the 259th through Normandy, the Ardennes, the Rhineland, northern France and central Europe. Duties were to keep the units stocked with clothing, fuel, food, and whatever was demanded. The salvage team had to repair and fix whatever was needed everything from shoes to clothing, always on the move keeping up with the advance toward Berlin.
When the war in Europe ended, Richard still didn't have enough points to be discharged. With that in mind, the Army had a place for him in San Bernadino, Calif. Life here brought a clean bed, three square meals and an 8 to 5 job. Passes were given upon request. There was no guard duty and no mess duty.
Weekends brought trips to Hollywood, the Rose Bowl and even a trip to Mexico. All was going well until rumor had it that all eligible troops may be headed to Cheyenne, Wyo., where training for the invasion of Japan was taking place.
Cheyenne didn't last long. The Army Air Corps dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima and then one in Nagasaki. Time passed and final orders came for Fort Dix where Richard received his discharge.
With his military obligation to his country over, Richard came home and found out that Alco, where he had worked before his war service had slowed down to almost no work at all. Contracts started coming in, and Richard found work this time not in payroll but as a piece work checker in the expediting and shipping departments. Here Richard reported to work for the next 22 years until that one day when he saw the closed sign on the front door.
On April 30, 1963, Richard retired from Alco when the plant officially closed. He then found employment at the Dunkirk Radiator Co. where he was a clerk in the shop office. He later became a foreman in the machine shop.
This is another story of a veteran who did his job. He probably had a free ticket when the Coast Guard rejected him. As I interviewed Richard at the Chautauqua County Home, I was impressed to hear about his jobs He was at some of the worst battles fought in Europe. All this history sitting there. It's sad this story wasn't told 20 years ago so more people would understand what this Greatest Generation had done.
Thank you, Richard, for your service. Thank you for your story. Every job in the military carries responsibilities that if not carried out properly cause disaster. Fuel, food and ammunition may win a war, and supplies like clothes, socks, shirts and boots will help win a war!
Our hero of the week, Richard Husch of the U.S. Army.