Richard L. Duchossois
Biography: Richard L. Duchossois, “Dick”, was born on October 7, 1921, in Chicago, Illinois. He specifically grew up in the Chicago community of Beverly and is the son of Alphonse Christopher Duchossois and Erna Hessler. He attended Morgan Park Military Academy in Chicago as a day student, receiving his schooling and military training during the day but returning home each evening. He furthered his education at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, seeking his undergraduate degree but was called on by the Army to serve in January of 1942.
Service Time: Dick's time at Morgan Park allowed him to be commissioned as Second Lieutenant in the Infantry Reserves. Just after the war started, he was called up for duty and was sent to Camp Robinson, in Little Rock, Arkansas, for training. He was only there a few days before being sent to Camp Hood, Texas, and assigned to the 610th Tank Destroyer Battalion.
The 610th had just been formed and he initially served as a training officer for the new troops but would later serve as Commanding Officer of Company C. While on leave, Dick married the former Beverly Thrall who was his high school sweetheart. Dick shipped out with the unit from the New York port on June 3, 1944, and arrived in England on the 12th. The 610th was initially attached to 1st Army but later to General Patton’s 3rd Army’s 80th Infantry Division, supporting the 318th Infantry Regiment. Its first major engagement was in the area of Argentan, France.
From the Unit History..."A counterattack was launched against Ste. Genevieve at 4:00 am when the Jerries (Germans) were reacting strongly to the crossing of the Moselle. The enemy infantry advanced through the early morning haze and fog against "C" Company's 3rd Platoon. The Company Headquarters Section destroyed two of the tanks with bazooka fire while two more were destroyed with the three-inch guns. Captain Duchossois of "C" Company was seriously wounded in this action."
The above action took place on September 18, 1944, near the Moselle River, France. Dick states that he sent his driver back and tried to hold off enemy troops with his Thompson Sub Machine Gun. His position was overrun and he was hit in the side by a gunshot. The injury left him temporarily paralyzed from the neck down and he was hospitalized in Paris until early December. When he was well enough to rejoin his unit, members of his unit arrived at the hospital and took him back to the front.
He was then assigned to Company B , and in late December and early January the 610th, again attached to the 80th Infantry Division, helped hold the southern shoulder of the Bulge. They crossed the Rhine River at Worms, Germany, on March 29, 1945, and quickly drove into the heart of Germany toward Munich. In the months following the German surrender on May 8, the various tank destroyer units took part in the occupational duties necessary for security of the area, to help restore communications, travel and provide food and shelter for displaced persons.
From the Unit History..."On May 17th Recon Company was attached to the 4th MP Company working under the Provost Marshal. The Company moved to Weissenberg. The Military Government Detachment in Eichstatt was extremely short handed and requested the services of one officer from the Battalion and Captain Duchossois was sent on this mission on
May 18th. He served there until June 28th when he returned to the unit.
Dick returned to the U.S. as a Major in late 1945. He was only 23 when he was promoted to that rank. He was discharged in late March of 1946, and received credit for the campaigns of Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. He received the Purple Heart and was awarded two Bronze Stars and the French Legion of Honor Medal.
Now back in the U.S., with hiswife and first son Craig to support, he went to work for his father-in-law's company, Thrall Car Manufacturing Company, servicing and later building railroad cars. He continued in the business, eventually becoming CEO in 1952, and building it into the second largest rail car company in the world. He and Beverly had three more children, Dayle, Bruce and Kim but sadly Beverly passed away in 1980.
Dick had bought a horse for his son Bruce to encourage him to get better grades. He took a trip to the Kentucky Derby and was reluctantly influenced by other investors to purchase the Arlington Park race course. When the track burned down in 1985, he rebuilt it at a cost of 200 million dollars in a period of only 18 months. Dick continued to expand his financial interests into what would become Duchossois Industries, which is a conglomerate of residential security, automation and digital media companies including both TV and radio stations along with the original Thrall Company.
He currently serves as Director of TCMC, Inc., the Emirates World Series of Racing, and the Thoroughbred Racing Association. He is a Member of the Board of Trustees for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. He has received numerous awards over the years for his work in the racing industry as well as other projects in which he has been involved. Richard later married Mary Judith and the couple currently reside in the Chicagoland area.
The information and images used for this tribute were gathered from a variety of sources including Duchossois Company websites and newspaper articles. You can find out more about Mr. Duchossois from an interview he gave to the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago, Illinois. Here is a link to that interview.....Interview and Article