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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)
|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)
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)
Port Angeles, Wash.
|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. 1944||Lcdr. Edward Andrew Michel Jr., USN (USNA '35) (Jamestown, N.Y.)|
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Page Last Updated: 22 August 2020