From the Prison Writing Project
My name is Richard Andrew Lamphere, my service number was [ ] USMC. In March, 1972, coming home, I was an escort to a containment case that contained the remains of a fallen American. The flight plan for the C-130 was Danang, Okinawa, Alaska, Dover. Dover was fogged in and we had to land in Philadelphia. The date was between 25 March and 28 March 1972, my name will appear on the flight manifest. I don’t know many C-130’s from Alaska to Dover were diverted to Philadelphia in this time frame but my guess was not many.
A hurst limo picked us up and drove us to Dover. The ride was about an hour with at least one toll booth. I thought something was wrong with the limo because I smelled a petroleum type smell, when I asked the driver, he said, … “it’s New Jersey.” When we arrived at Dover we rolled into this large building. The first I noticed was how clean this building was. I opened the limo door and when my left foot hit the deck I felt I was in a very sacred place. You just knew this place was special. Instinctively, we did not talk, we whispered. Standing still, I looked at the three by five foot banners that were displayed along the rafters. Even though I was a Marine I knew the history of the Army’s “Big Red One” division. As I looked at these banners I started to think about all of the guys that came through here. Everyone was represented. I am not afraid to admit to you that I have had only one religious experience in my lifetime. And, as I looked at these banners and thought about all the guys that came through here, I felt a warm and caring spirit emanate from this building. I felt this spirit welcome home this unknown American.
I truly understood the meaning of a dignified transfer.
At the time, I didn’t want to know who this person was. I was going home; and this person was not going home the same. One guy looked at the paperwork and said… “It’s a Girl.” I know there are eight nurses on The Wall but I don’t know if one of them was this person I watched over.
I realize it’s been over forty-five years, but it’s like it just happened this morning. I will always remember what I felt. I have two friends on The Wall and I know the spirit of memorial hall welcomed them home too.
I have wanted to write to you for many years now, but was unsure of how receptive my letter would be. I hope my social status will not diminish the sincerity of this correspondence.
On 17 May 2017 the board members of the Fort Dodge Correctional Facility chapter of the Incarcerated Veterans voted to allocate funding for the Fisher House of Dover in the amount of three hundred dollars, yearly
Thank you for what you do and the comfort you provide to the families.
Richard A. Lamphere