Bill Rich, age 90, was raised in Warrensburg, Missouri, an hour outside Kansas City, Missouri. where his father worked as a manager at the local power company, Missouri Power & Light. William Rich Sr. was the charter president of the Warrensburg Rotary Club. Bill was an Eagle Scout in high school and enlisted in WWII at age 18 yrs after high school. Bill learned to fly a Piper Cub, worked that summer with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) building airstrips at Whiteman Air Force Base outside Warrensburg and enrolled in the local community college, Central Missouri College, until he was called into service in December 1942. He was sent to Sheppards Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas for basic training. He then went to Radio Operator Training schools in Wisconsin and South Dakota and was certified for High Frequency Radio, Radio Operator Mechanics & Air Traffic Control, including learning Morse Code. Bill then served in the Pacific Theatre with the Army Air Corps at Clark Field, Luzon, Philippines. He worked in Air Traffic control at the base and flew as a radio operator in B-25 bombers to various islands, including Okinawa. Bill received the Asiatic Pacific Theater Ribbon, American Theater Ribbon, Good Conduct Ribbon, Victory Ribbon and Philippine Liberation Ribbon. His highest rank as active duty was Sergeant and he served until February 1946. Bill was in the first American troops to land in Japan as USAAF Technicians to take control of “Radio Tokyo” transmitters on the hills above Tokyo in August 1945, a week before September 2, 1945 when Japan signed the unconditional surrender aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay with General MacArthur.
Upon returning to the US, Bill attended University of Missouri and studied Electrical Engineering, graduating with an EE degree in 1951. Bill was ROTC during college and was a 2nd Lt. when he was Honorably Discharged from the Air Force Reserves in 1957. Bill was hired by Mobil Oil Company as an Electrical Engineer for the oil fields and was sent to Venezuela right after college. He met his first wife at the oil camps, as she was visiting her parents. Her father worked for Mobil Oil Company as an Pipeline Engineer. Both of Bill’s two children were born in Venezuela at the oil camps.
After 10 years with Mobil Oil Company, Bill moved to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia continuing to work for oil companies and retired from ARAMCO in Saudi Arabia in the early 1980’s as a Senior Project Engineer. Bill moved back to Warrensburg, remarried, built his retirement home and started a 2nd career with Whiteman Air Force Base, the same base he helped build at age 18 years old, working as a Civilian Engineer for the air force base which houses the B-2 Bombers flying missions to Afghanistan. Bill worked for an additional 20 years at the air force base, retiring three weeks before his 80th birthday in August 2004.
Having out lived his 2nd wife, Bill now resides in Bastrop, Texas, near his daughter, and enjoys attending Rotary Club functions, Church at Calvary Episcopal and numerous Veterans functions. In October 2013, Bill was flown to Washington DC by the Honor Flight Group for a tour of all the war memorials. He really enjoyed the trip and the respect WWII veterans have been shown with the impressive memorial.