Hemingway mayor active in American Legion post- military service
HEMINGWAY, S.C. – Hemingway Mayor Grady Richardson said he enlisted in the United States Navy right out of high school. He knew that the military was the quickest and easiest way to get college paid for.
Richardson enlisted at Fort Jackson in South Carolina and completed boot camp in Orlando, Fla. He spent a short time in San Diego, Calif., before being stationed in Norfolk, Va.
“I was stationed onboard the USS America,” Richardson said. “I served from 1973 to 1977.”
He worked as a weapons supplier and provided any logistical supplies that were needed for the different weapons on board the ship.
During Richardson’s four years in the Navy, he was able to spend time in the Mediterranean and visit Spain, France, Italy, Greece and Turkey.
“I’ve also been to England,” Richardson said. “And I’ve been to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”
The trip to Guantanamo Bay was quick.
“We had to get some supplies, and I was fortunate enough to fly off the aircraft carrier and fly into Guantanamo Bay and then fly back onto the aircraft carrier,” Richardson said.
Although he served in the military during the Vietnam War, Richardson said, he never went to the Pacific. All of his time was spent off the East coast and in the Mediterranean.
Richardson’s reason for joining the military was to be able to pay for school. And he accomplished that after leaving the Navy.
“After I got out the Navy, I enrolled in to Coastal Carolina College which at that time was the University of South Carolina at Coastal,” he said. “I spent four years there. I got a bachelor’s degree in physical education. I also was able to go to the Citadel as a graduate student and get my masters in education administration, all on the GI Bill.”
He then went on to work as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal and ultimately, a director of secondary education.
“It (the Navy) gave me the discipline I needed to finish school,” Richardson said.
Nowadays, Richardson is active in the American Legion of South Carolina. He has served as a district commander and chairman of the American Legion Department of South Carolina Finance Committee.
Richardson is the founding director of the American Legion Riders of South Carolina Chapter 84 in Hemingway, and has served three times as the state director of the American Legion Riders of South Carolina.
The American Legion Riders of South Carolina’s biggest event is a statewide legacy ride, Richardson said. The 600-mile ride throughout the state is done to raise money for the American Legion Legacy Fund.
“The American Legion is unique in the fact that all the money raised goes toward the purpose it’s raised for,” Richardson said.
The American Legion Riders groups from across the country participate in a program called the Washing of the Wall. The National Parks Service will ask different veterans groups to go to Washington, D.C., and clean the Vietnam Memorial and the Korean Veterans War Memorial. The American Legion Riders of South Carolina have participated in the Washing of the Wall twice.
“I was able to go the first time,” Richardson said. “I was not able to go this past time. That’s a wonderful experience.”
In addition to his other duties, Richardson is the post adjutant for American Legion Post 84 in Hemingway.