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Air Force veteran lived well-traveled, well-grounded life

July 15, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about retired Master Sgt. Carl Wesley Rihard, who died July 4 at the age of 78. His obituary appeared in the July 6 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

How ironic that Carl W. Rihard would pass away July 4, the date that symbolizes America's love of freedom and independence, as well as the willingness of its military personnel to preserve it.

Carl served in the U.S. Air Force for 22 years, retiring in 1970 after tours of duty in Germany, Turkey, the Philippines, Guam, Vietnam, Labrador and Greenland, as well as at a number of posts in the United States.

"I met Carl in Florida, where he was in the same squadron as my stepfather," said Jacqueline Rihard, his wife of 55 years.

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Then 20 years old, Jacqueline said she and her stepfather went to a softball game where Carl was playing. While she didn't talk to him on that occasion, Jacqueline said she remembers he cut quite a figure on the field.

Jacqueline's family later went to Texas when her stepfather was transferred there, as was Carl.

"About a year later, we got married," Jacqueline said.

After a stint in Texas, Jacqueline and Carl packed up and moved to Germany with their first daughter, who was born in Texas.

"We lived in Landsberg, a pretty little town near the Lech River," Jacqueline said. They stayed there about three years and a son was born.

There was another four-year stint in Germany later in Carl's career.

"I loved it in Germany both times," Jacqueline said.

The second time, the Rihard family included all four children, all of whom were supposed to move into a duplex that Carl had found for them.

"When we got there, the house wasn't ready, so we had to move into a house that was made of paper," Jacqueline said. "It was right beside the railroad tracks and a gypsy camp."

She explained that the building material used in the house consisted of paper and other materials that formed the walls of the house.

On cold winter nights, everyone slept in one big feather bed to keep warm. The family later relocated to Ramstein Air Base and Carl was off to Turkey.

Carl's job in the Air Force was working with Ground Electronics Engineering Agency and the 6913th Radio Squadron, installing communications lines around the world.

During those years, Jacqueline went everywhere Carl did until the 1960s, when their four children were of high school age.

"I came back to Keedysville," Jacqueline said, noting she had grown up near the town.

One of Carl's leading characteristics was his interest in people and in helping them. He often combined that with his passion for sports of any kind, Jacqueline said.

While in Bremerhaven, Germany, Carl established that town's first youth basketball league in 1955, later receiving a commendation from the town for his efforts.

That commendation and many others have been archived in a scrapbook by the Rihard family.

A product of the Depression, Carl was one of a family of eight who grew up in Kansas in tough times.

"Carl wanted to be in the major leagues, but he didn't have the body for it," Jacqueline said. Nonetheless, Carl threw himself into many sports in addition to baseball.

A love of cards also played a big role in his life. When Carl's sisters came to visit, there always was a card game going, Jacqueline said.

"He also loved to win in whatever he did," she said.

His last overseas post was in Vietnam when he was in his 40s. Carl retired as a master sergeant.

As a civilian back in Washington County, Carl worked 17 years as a lineman for the C&P Telephone Co., retiring from there in 1986.

Carl also raised beef cattle for a while after he retired.

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