Polk County

Lt. Richard Spencer





'Chutist Injured For Second Time.

Lieut. Richard Spencer, army paratrooper, husband of Mrs. Jo Anne Spencer, 1347 Thirty-ninth st., was wounded the second time in France about Sept. 8, he has informed his wife.

Lieutenant Spencer first was wounded Aug 22, a week after he jumped during the southern invasion in France. At that time he was wounded by a mortar shell and awarded the purple heart. In September he was wounded by a grenade.

A graduate of Roosevelt High school and State University of Iowa, Lieutenant Spencer entered the service in January, 1943, and has been overseas since the last of May. He has a 5-week-old daughter, Barbara Jo.

Source: The Des Moines Tribune, September 21, 1944

It happened in Iowa ---

Scout War Hero

A French Boy Scout led Lieut. Richard Spencer's platoon through the German lines to relieve another surrounded by Germans, the paratrooper officer has written to his wife, JoAnne Nicholsen Spencer, 1347 Thirty-ninth st.

Lieutenant Spencer, an Eagle Scout, added that the French Boy Scout organization has been exceedingly active in the underground movement.

The men taken behind the lines carried medical and other relief supplies and food, Lieutenant Spencer wrote.

The incident occurred sometime between Aug. 15, when he made a jump during the southern invasion in France, and Aug. 22, when he was wounded by a mortar shell, Mrs. Spencer said. He was wounded in September by a grenade.

Lieutenant Spencer has been overseas since May.

A French Scout presented Lieutenant Spencer with a French Scout belt and insignia.

Source: The Des Moines Register, October 25, 1944 (photo included)

Des Moines in the Services

Relatives and friends of paratroopers in the 517th combat team in this country have received a Christmas greeting designed for his fellows by Lieut. Richard Spencer, whose wife lives at 1347 Thirty-ninth st.

A 30,000-copy printing was made of the greeting, a cartoon of a parachuting American soldier, Mrs. Spencer said. The lieutenant, a 1942 graduate of the State University of Iowa, also designed individual greetings for officers.

The Iowans team jumped in the invasion in southern France in August. Before going to war he did some cartooning for commercial advertising.

Source: The Des Moines Tribune, December 25, 1944 (V-mail image included)


Buddies Recall Experiences In Europe; Await Trip Home

By Frank Miles
(Daily Times Herald War Correspondent)

Paris, France (IDPA) -- Lieutenants Richard Spencer, Des Moines and E.J. Pinkston, Council Bluffs, got hot from throwing cold water on each other while taking shower baths at the ATO fraternity house at the University of Iowa, tussled and then became fast friends. Soon after the United States was forced into World War II they decided to be paratroopers and joined the army together.

They were commissioned at the same time after finishing a course at the officers candidate school at Fort Benning, Ga., took special training at the same class at Taccoa, Ga., and were assigned to the 517th parachute infantry regiment. Attached to the 36th division, they landed at Naples, fought in Italy, entered France when Americans forces attacked Marseilles and nearby places in August 1944.

At St. Nazaire a German mortar shell explode close to Spencer, blowing him over a stone fence to come down at at the feet of Pinkston, Spencer was bleeding profusely but was dazed and didn't realize he was hurt until his pal repeatedly told him while administering first aid. Pinkston was wounded soon afterward by a piece of a flying Jerry steel.

They went northeast through France and into Belgium, where they were in the Battle of the Bulge, then fought in Germany. I met them in Paris, a happy pair because they thought they were going home before being ordered to the Pacific. Each wore four Battle Stars, the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman's badge.

"Those Iowans are real fighters and great guys," said a Michigan officer who had been with them over a long period.

Source: Carroll Daily Times Herald, July 10, 1945