1LT Richard Lane Hazel
U.S. Army Infantry
MIA June, 1944; KIA as of June 1945
Tablets of the Missing, Manila American Cemetery
-- Your loving son, George --
It was about 15 years ago that I became aware of the fact that I really didn't know my dad and woke up to the fact that it was about time I did.
I also realized how great the price was that he paid for family and country and that the very least I could do was to make sure that his sacrifice
would not be forgotten by my family, my children's family, and so on. Initially, I didn't have much information about him. I did have a few photos,
medals, and enlistment & discharge documents. Everyone in my family he knew was no longer living. The first thing I did was to contact the Army and
request a copy of his service records. That was a dead end because all his records were destroyed in the 1973 fire at the records center in St. Louis,
Missouri. My next step was to contact the Veterans Association. They gave me some helpful suggestion and ideas. I contacted my Congress Representatives
and got some information. I was then introduced to the wonderful world of computers. Through a variety of searches and contacts I started getting results.
So, with the information I had, I decided to trace his military career from Fort McKinley, Maine to Fort McKinley, Manila and put it all in a scrap book
dedicated to him. My biggest find came earlier this year when I learned that Washington kept a copy of his 201 file so via the freedom of information act,
I was able to get a copy of it. The file contained all the information about the incident that caused him to become missing and a lot of follow-up references,
as well as the names of those that were traveling with him, and the possibilities as to what happened to him. Patience and perseverance in my endeavors were
rewarded. As a result of pursuing information about my dad, I have come to love, admire, appreciate and respect him. I also now have a passion for reading
everything I can find about the CBI theater and the war in China. I believe that I have just about completed all there is to know about my dad, at least for
now. My heart goes out to the children whose dads have and are still giving their bodies as a sacrifice for freedom.
At the time of his presumable demise, he was assigned to the Zebra Force, China Training Command, in Hengyang, China as a Combat Training Advisor to the
Chinese Nationalist Army. Their mission was to protect the US Air Force bases in Eastern China (which they failed to do). In June, 1944, the Japanese attacked
the Airbase at Hengyang, forcing an evacuation. It was during the evacuation that Richard and 5 others that were traveling with him by car were attacked by
seven enemy planes. The bombing and strafing lasted about 25 minutes. After the attack, Richard could not be found. He was classified as MIA. On June 26, 1945,
Richard was re-classified to KIA, N0N-RECOVERABLE. His name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila, Philippines.
Richard was born on October 24, 1908 in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He was the only son of John Francis and Gertrude Plympton Evans Fletcher Hazel. They also
had a daughter, Margret. Gertrude also had 2 other children by a previous marriage, Charles and Cecile Fletcher. Richard enjoyed the outdoors. Prior to enlisting,
he worked for the New Hampshire Forest Service. He was an avid hunter and woodsman. Among some of his likes were guns, horses, and motorcycles. When he first
enlisted he was assigned to a Cavalry Company. During a training exercise a horse kicked him and broke his leg. During the mid 1930s, while stationed at Fort
Preble, South Portland, Maine, he met and married Madeline Clark of South Portland. They had three children: Mabel Ann, Evelyn Louise, and George Evans, and
continued to live in South Portland. Because Richard was constantly being transferred from one fort to another, he was not able to spend much time at home with
his family. My mother told me that one time when he was home and I was about 3 years old, he took me to the store with him. When he returned home, my mother asked
where I was. He had forgotten I was with him and went home without me. I was still there when he came back (good thing for him).
Richard enlisted in the army in 1930 at Fort McKinley, South Portland, Maine. He moved up the ranks from a Private to a 1st Lieutenant. From 1930 to September,
1943 (when he was shipped overseas), Richard was assigned to many different places state side for training. He was a member of a military rifle and pistol team
and earned a lot of medals for his expert marksmanship. His other medals and awards were: the Purple Heart, Bronze Star, American Defense Service, and American
Campaign, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign with one Bronze Star, WWII Victory, and Combat Infantry Badge. Over the past 12+ years, God (through various means) has
provided me with sufficient information to follow his career, service, and ultimate sacrifice. My greatest regret is that we never had a personal relationship.
It is my hope that my dad's final assignment was to spend eternity with his Heavenly Father and that I will someday join him there. I am looking forward to seeing
you, dad. May our loving and gracious God continue to watch over our servicemen and women and their families. AMEN.
The strength of a mountain
The majesty of a tree
The warmth of the sun
The calm of a quiet sea
The generous soul of nature
The comforting arm of night
The wisdom of the ages
The power of eagles' flight
The joy of a spring morning
The faith of a mustard seed
The patience of eternity
The depth of family need
When my Heavenly Father combined the qualities
And there was nothing more to add
He knew his masterpiece was complete
And so he called you my Dad