Fifield, Richard H. (774th)

Richard H. Fifield 1Richard H. Fifield

Biography:  Richard Harold Fifield, “Dick”, was born on August 17, 1921, in Pittsfield, Vermont. He was the son of Clayton Harold and Hattie Agnes Potter and graduated from Rutland High School. 

Service Time: Dick entered the service on March 15, 1942, at Springfield, Massachusetts. He was sent to Fort Devens, MA, and assigned to Company D, in the Recruit Traning Center for his basic training. From there, he was sent to Camp Blanding, Florida, where he was assigned to Company A of the 774th Tank Destroyer Battalion.

He trained with the unit at a number of facilities including Fort Jackson, South Carolina, Camp Forrest, Tennessee, where they participated in the Tennessee maneuvers, and Camp Hood, Texas. The 774th shipped out from New York on June 3, 1944, arriving in Gourock, Scotland, on the 12th. They had been converted to a towed battalion, using the M5 3″ anti-tank gun pulled by a half-track, before arriving in the United Kingdom. On August 7th, they disembarked at Utah Beach, Normandy, France and joined the fighting around Argentan. From there they moved eastward across France to Lorraine as part of a cavalry screen and the 7th Armored Division.

Letter Home – March 8, 1944

The 774th then participated in the fighting around Metz, France, in September and fought along the Saar River, Germany, in December and then joined rush north to the Ardennes. They converted to M36 tank destroyers in late February 1945, and drove to the Rhine in March. Holding the Rhine west of the Ruhr Pocket in April, the unit then took on military government duties.

The unit received credit for campaigns in Northern France, Rhineland, the Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe. Dick was awarded the Bronze Star and also received the Purple Heart for injuries he suffered on January 15, 1945. The unit history lists his rank as Private First Class but we believe his highest rank was Sergeant. It is interesting to note that Dick’s sidearm had a bone handle.

After returning to Vermont, he married the former Ramona Lois Willis in 1946. Ramona was born in Rutland and was the daughter of Eddie C. Willis and Lois Madden. The new couple would have three children, sons Larry and Jeffrey and a daughter Sue. Dick worked for the State of Vermont as a fish and game warden. His first marriage would end and on May 9, 1970, Dick married the former Joyce Irene Rooker who was born in Fair Haven, VT, and was the daughter of Leroy Philander Rooker and Irena Mae Weller.

Dick retired as a District Supervisor for the Forest Service in 1975, after 25 years. He then worked as a Deputy Sheriff in Rutland County until 1985. He was a member of the VFW, a life member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, the Disabled American Veterans of Rutland and for 55 years, a member of the Free and Accepted Masons in Rochester and a member of the American Legion. He was also an Honorary Member of the Green Mountain Boys, which was a military organization established by Ethan Allen in the 1700s, in the area which would later become Vermont.

Dick had a keen interest in military history and had collected a large military library, which he donated to the Vermont Military Museum and Library at Camp Johnson. Vermont Governor, James H. Douglas proclaimed September 10, 2011, as “Dick Fifield” Day.

Richard H. Fifield 2Dick passed away on October 24, 2013, and was buried in the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Fair Haven, VT. I want to thank Dick’s friend, Jennifer Howard, for providing the information and photos used in this tribute.