In an emotional and moving ceremony at the Twenty-Second Panhandle Veterans Hall of Honor in Pampa, veterans, families, and guests joined together to honor individuals who have distinguished themselves not only in the defense of this country, but who have also been positive influences on their respective home communities. One of the inductees was longtime resident of Phillips and Fritch, Richard Harry Hendrickson who was nominated by his daughter, Mona Hendrickson Fannon of Fritch.
Presentations were made by Keith Black, D. O., Captain of the US Navy, who served two tours of duty in Iraq. He spoke about Hendrickson’s life and his service in the U. S Army.
“Richard Hendrickson was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1922 and grew up in Seminole. He later graduated from Kiefer High School after the war. He was President of his class meeting his wife, June Blackburn, who was Valedictorian of the class.
He joined the Army in 1940 and served 34 months in Ireland, England, Scotland, North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. He came to the Texas Panhandle with his wife in 1947, working for Phillips Petroleum Company for 38 years.
Hendrickson served with the 19th Engineers, Company C 401st Battalion. This unit was stationed for many months in Southern California. When a Japanese submarine shelled Santa Barbara shortly after the US entered war, the 19th took up defensive positions along the California beaches against a possible invasion. In January of 1942 his company marched in the Rose Bowl Parade. In August of that year Hendrickson’s unit boarded the Queen Elizabeth sailing to Ireland and then on to England, all the while preparing for the Invasion of North Africa. In November of 1942 the 19th began its long and distinguished battle record, primarily supporting the 1st and 34th Infantry Divisions as well as the 1st Armored Division.
During his distinguished military career he served as a squad leader, unit foreman, half-track driver, rifleman, and scout. He laid and removed mines under fire, was a bridge builder, rigger and demolition man. While in Italy Hendrickson saw a staff sergeant and medic injured when a box mine detonated. The blinded medic gave Hendrickson directions as he gave medical assistance to them. As he began giving them aid and was helping them to shelter, German mortars fired on them. Hendrickson was knocked unconscious and awoke several days later in an evacuation hospital never knowing who had helped him. After Hendrickson’s son, Dan, completed two years of extensive research, some 58 years later, he was honored by receiving the Purple Heart, presented by the Honorable Mac Thornberry, US Representative, in a moving and emotional ceremony in 2002 in Amarillo, Texas.
Richard H. Hendrickson received the Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Medal, Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII, World War II Victory Medal 1941-1945, European, Africa, Middle Eastern Campaign Medal and Second Corp Medal along with the 19th Engineer Insignia.
Hendrickson and his wife June raised their children, Glenna Hendrickson Amerman, Dan Hendrickson, and Mona Hendrickson Fannon in Phillips, Texas. He and June later moved to Fritch. In addition to his employment with Phillips Petroleum, he was a professional musician. He produced his last CD right before he turned 80 with his two daughters serving as backup vocalists. He always said, ‘A day without music is a day lost forever.’
Richard H. Hendrickson died in 2005, having instilled in his family a love of country, service to the community, and pride in being an American.”
After Dr. Black’s presentation, John Tripplehorn, President of the Freedom Museum, USA, presented the plaque to Hendrickson’s daughter, Mona Fannon. Fannon said, “On behalf of the Hendrickson family and friends, I am honored to accept this award for my father. As Dr. Black stated earlier about Dad’s quote, ‘A day without music is a day lost forever.’ I believe Dad would also say, ‘A day without service is a day lost forever.’ Even though my father is not here today, I feel his spirit is with us. Therefore, I salute, my father, Richard H. Hendrickson for his love of his country, his love of his family, and for his outstanding service to his country. Thank you to the Freedom Museum, and my father would be so proud.”
After the banquet and ceremony, Fannon’s family—Lyn, Mona Monica, and Lance toured the Freedom Museum where Hendrickson’s picture and his resume hangs in the area called the “Hall of Honor.” Other inductees this year included James W. Harrison of Floydada, Don Wyatt Rader of Canadian, Bob Curry of Pampa, and Homer Ratliff, Jr. of Miami.
As John Tripplehorn stated in the program, “As has been stated so many times, “freedom is most definitely not free,” but unfortunately, far too many have forgotten just how expensive freedom really is. Let us, in our Veterans Hall of Honor, keep those memories vivid and keep the watch fires of freedom ever burning brightly.” The Freedom Museum has been inducting deserving veterans into the Panhandle Veterans Hall of Fame since 1990.