On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the Weakly-Rowland American Legion Post No. 420 in St. Elmo honored a member of the greatest generation when they unveiled a plaque honoring Richard M. Lowe for his service in World War II.
“Heroes are those who gave their life for this country. I’m not one of those yet, but we were willing to offer our lives,” said Lowe as he reminisced about his time in the Navy.
The 94 year old vet was honored with a memorial plaque depicting himself, the raising of the American flag on Iwo Jima, the USS Wadsworth DD516, and the symbol of the United States Navy Quartermaster.
Lowe was a 2nd Class Petty Officer and quartermaster and entered the Navy in 1943. He was stationed on the USS Wadsworth DD516 during his service in WWII. This ship was part of the 5th fleet which played a key role in pushing back the Japanese advance and securing victory for the allies in the Pacific. The ship received a presidential citation which Lowe said was a far greater achievement than an individual honor a sailor could ever receiver.
Bob Heckert unveiled the plaque and had many kind words to say about Lowe and the service of American soldiers during WWII.
With three generations of his family present at the American Legion, Lowe entertained the group with several stories from his service days.
Lowe described his ship’s run-ins with Japanese suicide pilots and several close calls they had. He vividly described a nighttime secret mission in which the Wadsworth’s cannons turned ‘midnight into daylight’ by unleashing fire on a Japanese base. He even was able to talk about visiting Nagosaki after the destruction of an atomic bomb leveled the city.
“There was nothing left at all on the ground, nothing bigger than a pebble,” said Lowe.
It was clear to see the pride and respect in Lowe’s voice when he spoke of his shipmates and the men he served alongside. One of the men he served with on the Wadsworth went on to work in the Kennedy Whitehouse. Another designed the elevator system in use in the St. Louis Gateway Arch.
Lowe concluded his remarks by stating his pride in his country. “What makes America great is simply that we get things done.”
In addition to the memorial plaque on the wall, the American Legion has also honored Lowe by turning the north room into the Richard M. Lowe Reading Retreat. It is fitted with several couches and a nice little seating area next to a book self with a variety of reading materials.
After the plaque was unveiled, the legion served up a cake and drinks.
The plaque reads “Even with his humble, soft spoken manner, he received many accolades throughout his career, which he accepted graciously, and then gave all the credit to others. One of his many achievements was being a crew member onboard the DD516. In 1944-45 the DD516 and the 5th Fleet pushed the Japanese out of the Western Pacific, island by island, back to the homeland of Japan. They witnessed history unfold before them daily.
His devotion to his faith, his family, his country, and his community was unwavering. He is remembered as a ‘tin can’ sailor, and foremost as a charter member of the greatest generation.
FAIR WINDS AND FOLLOWING SEAS DEAR FRIEND”