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Navsource Online: Destroyer Escort Photo Archive

Mined off Normandy - 27 of her crew
were lost with the ship and remain on eternal duty

USS Rich (DE 695)

Flag Hoist / Radio Call Sign:
N - T - R - L
Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons

Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row: Combat Action Ribbon (retroactive)
Second Row: American Campaign Medal - European-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal w/ 1 star - WWII Victory Medal

Class: Buckley
Type: TE (turbine-electric drive, 3" guns)
Displacement: 1400 tons (light), 1740 tons (full)
Length: 300' (wl), 306' (oa)
Beam: 36' 9" (extreme)
Draft: 10' 6" (draft limit)
Propulsion: 2 "D" Express boilers, G.E. turbines with electric drive, 12000 shp, 2 screws
Speed: 24 kts
Range: 6,000 nm @ 12 knots
Armament: 3 x 3"/50 Mk22 (1x3), 1 twin 40mm Mk1 AA, 8 x 20mm Mk 4 AA, 3 x 21" Mk15 TT (3x1), 1 Hedgehog Projector Mk10 (144 rounds), 8 Mk6 depth charge projectors, 2 Mk9 depth charge tracks
Complement: 15 / 198
Rich (DE 695) Building and Operational Data:
  • 27 March 1943: Keel laid by the Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, Mich.
  • 22 June 1943: Launched and christened, sponsored by Mrs. Ralph McMaster Rich
  • 01 October 1943: Commissioned, Lcdr. Edward A. Michel, Jr., USN, in command
  • 08 June 1944: Struck a mine and sank off Utah Beach, Quineville, France. Of her crew, 27 men were killed; 73 were wounded; and 62 were missing.
  • 29 July 1944: Struck from the NVR with 8 months and 7 days of service

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    6k Ralph McMaster Rich was born on 22 January 1916 in Denmark, N.D., and enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on 12 October 1939 in Minneapolis, Minn. After receiving initial flight training in Minnesota, Aviation Cadet Rich reported for active duty at Pensacola, Fla., on 28 December 1939. Designated Naval Aviator on 12 July 1940, he was commissioned ensign on 16 August, and on 28 November 1940 Rich was assigned to Fighting Squadron (VF) 6, stationed on board the aircraft carrier Enterprise (CV 6). The carrier was operating with Task Force 8, west of the Hawaiian Islands on 07 December 1941, when Japan launched a surprise attack against U.S. forces at Oʻahu. Having been underway at the time of the attack, Enterprise and the other carriers of the Pacific Fleet avoided the initial onslaught, but were nonetheless quickly called upon to engage Japanese forces. For this reason, Rich participated in several of the initial actions of the war in the Pacific.

    Rich flew his Grumman F4F Wildcat fighter in support of a raid on the Marshall Islands on 01 February 1942 and received credit for destroying a Mitsubishi G4M Type 1 land attack plane that was still on the ground. Toward the end of the month, on the 24th, he participated in the air raid on Wake Island as well. On 28 November 1942, Rich was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant (j.g.). Notably, Rich also participated in the showdown between American and Japanese forces at Midway from 04 to 06 June 1942. During the action, Rich and a group of his fellow fighters covered the approach of American dive bombers attacking the Japanese fleet. He then demonstrated aggressive and capable leadership during the battle by splashing a Nakajima B5N2 Type 97 carrier attack plane while providing combat air patrol over the carrier Yorktown (CV 5). The Battle of Midway proved to be a decisive American victory that had lasting ramifications on Japan’s ability to prosecute the rest of the war.

    Tragically, on 18 June 1942, while Rich was participating in aerial gunnery practice over the Hawaiian Islands, his Wildcat lost a wing and crashed, instantly killing the young lieutenant. Despite his untimely loss, Rich was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, his citation referencing his heroic leadership during the Battle of Midway, which enabled his attack group to “maintain continuous flight over enemy naval units, thereby assuring our dive bombers an unmolested approach.”

    USS Rich (DE 695) (1943-1944) was the first ship to be named in his honor, she was succeeded by DD 820 (1946-1977).

    (U.S. Navy photo #NH 99078 from the U.S. Naval Historical Center)
    Bill Gonyo
    Downey, Cal.

    Assoc. Researcher
    131k 22 June 1943: Bay City Michigan - Rich's Launching at Defoe Shipbuilding, note the sidewise launch.

    (Photo © John Arnold Fryberger)
    George M. Fryberger
    In memory of his father,
    John A. Fryberger, FC3c, USNR
    375k 08 June 1944: off Normandy - USS Glennon (DD 620), at right, after her stern was blown off by a mine. USS Rich (DE 695), a U.S. PT boat, a British motor launch, and a U.S. Auk class minesweeper are standing by. Rich soon hit another mine, which also destroyed her stern, and was then sunk by a third mine.

    (U.S. Naval Historical Center photo #NH 44311 from the Naval History and Heritage Command)
    Mike Smolinski
    Clifton, N.J.

    Archive Manager
    DE / FF / LCS Archive
    42k 08 June 1944: off Normandy - Rich strikes a mine, amidships, while operating off Normandy. She had been assisting USS Glennon, and had previously hit another mine, which blew off her stern. Of her crew, 27 were killed; 73 wounded; and 62 missing.

    (U.S. Navy Photo #NHC 44312)
    Mike Green
    Port Angeles, Wash.
    181k 25 December 1944: This photo of Christmas, 1944, shows that recovery can take a long time. Wounded in June and still hospitalized for Christmas, Seaman 2nd Class Robert S. Whitaker, a survivor of the destroyer escort USS Rich (DE 695), is at left. Ensign Audrey Etie, a Navy Nurse, and another Normandy veteran, Ship's Cook 3rd Class, John Elliot Hunter, is at right. Rich was struck by two mines and sank off of Utah Beach, on 08 June 1944 during the Normandy Invasion. Of her crew, 27 men were killed; 73 were wounded; and 62 were missing.

    (U.S. Navy photo #80-G-K-14425 from the National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Md.)
    Tim Rizzuto
    Ship's Superintendent
    DE Historical Museum
    USS Slater at Albany, N.Y.

    Rich History
    View the USS Rich (DE 695) DANFS history entry located on the Naval History and Heritage Command web site.
    View the official War History of USS Rich as submitted by the ship at war's end.

    Rich's Commanding Officer
    Thanks to Wolfgang Hechler
    Dates of Command Commanding Officer
    1.) 01 Oct. 1943 - 08 Jun. 1944Lcdr. Edward Andrew Michel Jr., USN (USNA '35) (Jamestown, N.Y.)

    Crew Contact And Reunion Information

    Contact Name: Joseph Podorski
    Phone: (636) 530-1226
    Note About Contacts

    Contact information is compiled from various sources over a period of time and may, or may not, be correct. Every effort has
    been made to list the newest contact. However, our entry is only as good as the latest information that's been sent to us. We list
    only a contact for the ship if one has been sent to us. We do NOT have crew lists, rosters, or deck logs available. Please see the
    Frequently Asked Questions section on NavSource's Main Page for that information.

    Additional Resources

    Tin Can Sailors
    The U.S. Navy Memorial
    Destroyer Escort Sailors Association
    The Destroyer Escort Historical Museum
    The Destroyer History Foundation
    To The DE, FF, LCS Photo Index Page
    Back To The Main Photo Index

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    This Page Created And Maintained By Mike Smolinski
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    by Paul R. Yarnall, All Rights Reserved.
    Page Last Updated: 01 March 2023