WWII veteran to celebrate 100th birthday

Three events in April will help to celebrate Richard Gard, a local WWII veteran who will be turning 100 on April 6.

Originally from Union City, Ohio Gard was drafted into the Army in 1943. He attended basic training at Camp Polk, Louisiana, and was eventually deployed to England during World War II. Of the five major battles in Europe, Gard was a part of the first four.

Just three days after D-Day in 1944, Gard landed on Utah Beach in Normandy, France, with the U.S. Army. Gard was a staff sergeant in the 44th Armored Infantry Battalion, 6th Armored Division. He was responsible for leading his platoon area of the U.S. troops as they made their way into France and Belgium.

Gard has been awarded the Purple Heart, two Bronze Stars and the Silver Star. During the Battle of the Bulge, he received the Silver Star for gallantry in action in the vicinity of Bastogne, Belguim, on Jan. 4, 1945. He led his platoon through heavy artillery and mortar fire to take an area of woods despite depleted numbers and heavy counterattacks. During an enemy counterattack, he made his way forward 100 yards to treat and evacuate a man wounded on outpost duty. He was wounded in Belguim on Jan. 16, 1945.

“You are proud to do things for your country,” Gard said in a press release. “The U.S. Army gave me a chance to better myself, ... country, and get an education.”

After the war, he served in the Army Reserves for another two years. He also earned a degree in engineering from the University of Dayton, attending night school while employed at NCR. Gard was also recalled to active duty for the Korean War in 1950, at which time he rose to the rank of master sergeant.

Gard met his future wife, Gladys, while roller skating in Dayton. Upon his completion of basic training, his wife traveled to Louisiana where they were married prior to his deployment overseas. Gard is a retired Cessna airplane inspector. During retirement, Gard and his wife enjoy spending time at Indian Lake. They will celebrate their 79th wedding anniversary on June 12. They reside in West Carrollton, where they have lived since 1950.

On April 1, Gard will be honored as a Hometown Hero at the Cincinnati Reds game. A Hometown Hero is a member (past or present) of the Armed Forces who is recognized for his or her service to the country at Great American Ball Park. Recognitions occur at the end of the second inning during every Reds home game. Each Hometown Hero receives an official Hometown Hero hat and a Reds Hometown Hero challenge coin.

On April 6 at 5:30 p.m., West Carrollton with Centerville VFW Post 9550 will conduct a parade through his neighborhood. Featured in the parade will be the West Carrollton Police and Fire, Montgomery County Sheriffs, the West Carrollton High School Marching Band, and a 1943 PT-19A Cornell flyover by the Butler County Warbirds.

One final celebration will be held on April 8 from 3-6 p.m. at the West Carrollton VFW Post 3438 on Marna Drive. There will presentations from Rep. Phil Plumber, West Carrollton Mayor Jeff Sanner, the Montgomery County Veterans Association, Fred Rojas with VFW Post 9550, Tim Epperhart with the Butler County Warbirds and more.

To honor Gard for his achievements, birthday cards can be sent to him at the following address: MSgt. Richard Gard, 301 Pear Hill Drive, West Carrollton, 45449.

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