Family's patriotism spans several generations

By Megan R. Harrell
Star Staff

Carter County is rich in patriotic heritage. Several stories could be told of the various ways in which men and women from this region have contributed to the national cause; however, one local family's story of contribution spans five generations.
   J.C. Richardson was born and raised in the Roan Mountain community along with his four brothers and two sisters. A member of his family has been involved in every American conflict from the Civil War to the current efforts in the Middle East.
   "There are not many families that have had this kind of patriotism," Richardson said.
   Richardson's grandfather was the first in his family whose service can be documented. The North Carolina native served in the Union Army during the Civl War because he did not agree with the cause of the confederacy.
   Richardson had several uncles involved in the next two major conflicts the U.S. faced. His uncle, C.A. Guinn, fought in the Spanish American War, and he had four uncles that served during World War I.
   Richardson and his five brothers all served in the military during times of international conflict. His older brothers, William and Mont Richardson, were the first of the brothers to go to combat. They were drafted during World War II and served for a combined eight years during the war.
   J.C., the middle brother, recalls his father needing his help on the farm during the years his two older brothers were in combat. "Dad pulled me out of school to help him in the fields while my two oldest brothers were gone," Richardson said.
   By the time the older Richardson brothers were ready to return to Roan Mountain, their teenage brother had already begun to receive notification of his ensuing draft. Richardson said that his decision whether or not to serve the country was an easy one. "When my brothers came out of the service I was getting draft notices, so I figured I might as well go ahead and volunteer," Richardson said.
   Richardson joined the U.S. Army in the fall of 1948 and served in the MPS in Darmstout, Germany. He was preparing to return to East Tennessee when the Korean Conflict began, and he was frozen in Germany for two more years. "I was all packed and headed to morning revelry, and they came and told me to unpack our bags because we were frozen for the duration of the Korean conflict," Richardson said.
   Richardson's younger brother, Burdell, also served during the Korean Conflict. He served with the U.S. Army from 1954 to 1956.
   The fifth, and youngest, Richardson brother was discharged from the U.S. Army after President Truman signed legislation that outlawed the youngest son, or last son in a family, from going into active combat. He was sent home after only 120 days of service during the Korean conflict.
   The next generation of Richardson's picked up right where their father's and grandfather's generations left off. Two of the five brother's sons served during the Vietnam conflict. Richardson's niece served in the Persian Gulf War, and his nephew is currently serving in Afghanistan.
   Richardson stated that his family's commitment to its country is something that was instilled in them from an early age. "They were times when our country needed us, and we were just raised, and brought up that way," Richardson said.
   Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Richardson family's story is the fact that none of them were killed in combat. The only one to sustain significant injuries was Mont Richardson, who was shot and stabbed with a bayonet during World War II.
   "It is amazing that we all went through the wars and none of us got killed," Richardson said. "I put that to our belief in the good Lord, and to our parents and churches praying for us. The good Lord did not seem to want to take us and spared our lives."