Richard N Antrim
Richard was born on the 17th of December, 1907 in Peru, Indiana. At the age of 19, he joined the US Naval reserve and the following year received an appointment to the US Naval Academy. Richard was married to Mary Jean Packard shortly before graduating from the Academy on the 4th of June, 1931. He went on to serve as a fire control officer aboard the USS New York before going to the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida for flight instruction in 1932.
Richard was later ordered to assist in fitting out the USS Portland at the Bethlehem Steel Corporation in Quincy, Massachusetts and he then served as its division officer until the Spring of 1936. Richard received his naval aviator designation and when war broke out in the Pacific Ocean in 1941, he was the executive officer of the USS Pope. While on board the Pope, Richard was involved in three major engagements with the Japanese forces: the battles of Balikpapan, Badung Strait, and the Java Sea. During the Battle of Balikpapan, Richard directed close range attacks that delayed the Japanese. During the Battle of Badung Strait, Richard once again directed accurate and deadly fire that was recognized by his commanding officer of commendation and recommendation for a destroyer command. Richard received the Navy Cross for his actions during that battle. Unfortunately, the USS Pope was not as successful during the Battle of the Java Sea. It was sailing with two British ships on the 28th of February 1942 when they were all spotted by the Japanese. The Pope was the last to be sunk and Richard made sure that even while wounded, all of the life rafts were readied and he distributed all of the supplies that were available. All but one man was able to escape the ship.
Richard and the survivors stayed together with the life rafts for three days and three nights until they were picked up by a Japanese warship and they were then handed over to the Japanese Army. It was Richard's actions as a prisoner of war that would earn him the Medal of Honor. The citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while interned as a prisoner of war of the enemy Japanese in the city of Makassar, Celebes, Netherlands East Indies, in April 1942. Acting instantly on behalf of a naval officer who was subjected to a vicious clubbing by a frenzied Japanese guard venting his insane wrath upon the helpless prisoner, Comdr. (then Lt.) Antrim boldly intervened, attempting to quiet the guard and finally persuading him to discuss the charges against the officer. With the entire Japanese force assembled and making extraordinary preparations for the threatened beating, and with the tension heightened by 2,700 Allied prisoners rapidly closing in, Comdr. Antrim courageously appealed to the fanatic enemy, risking his own life in a desperate effort to mitigate the punishment. When the other had been beaten unconscious by 15 blows of a hawser and was repeatedly kicked by 3 soldiers to a point beyond which he could not survive, Comdr. Antrim gallantly stepped forward and indicated to the perplexed guards that he would take the remainder of the punishment, throwing the Japanese completely off balance in their amazement and eliciting a roar of acclaim from the suddenly inspired Allied prisoners. By his fearless leadership and valiant concern for the welfare of another, he not only saved the life of a fellow officer and stunned the Japanese into sparing his own life but also brought about a new respect for American officers and men and a great improvement in camp living conditions. His heroic conduct throughout reflects the highest credit upon Comdr. Antrim and the U.S. Naval Service.
Later, Richard was tasked with a work detail that was to construct slit trenches that would provide protection during air raids. He was able to not only rearranged the work plans to make the trenches appear as a giant US from the air, but he did so that on the ground it would appear as if they were dug correctly and got the Japanese to approve the plans. This plan saved hundreds of POW lives from being mistaken as the enemy and being bombed by aircraft. Even though Richard knew if he was discovered doing this, he would have been beheaded and for that, he received a Bronze Star with Valor device.
Once liberated in 1945, Richard returned to the States for rehabilitation and he later would refresh his pilot training and went on to complete a course at the Naval War College. Richard received his Medal of Honor from President Truman in a ceremony at the White House on the 30th of January, 1947. After many different commands, Richard retired from the Navy on the 1st of April, 1954 after 28 years of service. While on the retirement list, he was promoted to Rear Admiral because of all of his combat awards. Richard Nott Antrim died in Mountain Home, Arkansas on the 7th of March, 1969 at the age of 61 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery; section 35, grave 2613.