Veterans Voices: The story of Rick Lamoreaux

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COLESVILLE, NY – This week’s segment focuses on a veteran close to home who has spent his adult life committed to the safety and security of our nation and our community.

As NewsChannel 34’s Jim Ehmke shows us, U-S Marine and Purple Heart recipient Rick Lamoreaux of Colesville took the lessons he learned during his 35 year military career and applied them to protecting and serving here at home.

Rick Lamoreaux joined the Marines right after graduating from high school in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania in 1953.

After boot camp, he was immediately deployed to Korea where he patrolled the mountains along the Demilitarized Zone.

After 13 months, he returned stateside and progressed through a variety of assignments, aerial photography, officer instruction and patrolling the Mediterranean.

During the height of the Cuban Missile crisis, his unit boarded Russian ships headed to Cuba to search for nuclear weapons, including one that required a shot across the bow in order to stop.

“All we heard was this (roar sound) over our heads. You could almost see the ship (come to a quick) stop. So, we toddled on out there in the Atlantic and aboard the ship,” says Lamoreaux.

No weapons were found.

Through years of training, Lamoreaux became an expert at demolitions, marksmanship, machine guns and hand-to-hand combat.

But in ’65, he was assigned to the Presidential Honor Guard, protecting President Lyndon Johnson at the White House, Camp David and in his hospital room when the President was recovering from gall bladder surgery.

“He said, ‘Do you play cards Sgt. Lamoreaux?’ I said, ‘Not really, sir.’ ‘Well, you’re going to learn.’ Well, what are you going to tell the President?” says Lamoreaux.

In ’66, he left the White House and was shipped off to Vietnam where he earned his 2 Purple Hearts for being wounded in battle.

The first one came during an intense fire fight in which he was second-in-command and took a ricocheted bullet to his left hip, which still bothers him to this day.

“I said a lot of prayers that day, probably made a lot of promises to God that I knew would be hard to keep. We were in deep do-do, if I can put it like that. There were only 19 of us and we knew there were a lot more of them,” says Lamoreaux.

The platoon leader and another Marine were killed and 7, including Lamoreaux, were wounded.

But they managed to stave off a North Vietnamese force of 110 with the aid of rescue helicopters and artillery.

Later, he was wounded a second time when mortars struck his base. Lamoreaux says the top 2 objectives were always to complete the mission and safeguard his men.

And it was never easy when you lost men, including one who never came back.

“I sent him out on patrol with some other Marines and they stepped into some stuff, so to speak. Young Marine, 19, got wounded and they dragged him off and we never heard from him again. He was listed as ‘missing’,” says Lamoreaux.

As a result, Lamoreaux has committed much of his time post-military to working on behalf of POW’s and MIA’s. He’s a past VFW Commander and member of the Legion and Marine Corps League.

After returning from Vietnam in ’67, Lamoreaux made the difficult decision to leave the Marines so that he could help care for his ailing father.

He settled in Binghamton and joined the police force. He says his military background served him well as a cop.

“It was the largest influence in regards to training and discipline and knowing when you’re given a job to do, how to go about doing it. You follow your orders, whether you think they’re right or wrong, you follow your orders,” says Lamoreaux.

In ’75, Lamoreaux resumed his military career in the Army Reserves. An injury on the police force in ’81 lead to early retirement and he finished his civilian career working a variety of security jobs. But as the saying goes, once a Marine, always a Marine.

“I’m proud of what I achieved. I’m happy with who I have become with my family and my job and my personal security. I wish I could have stayed in the Marine Corps full, for my full retirement,” says Lamoreaux.

At age 86, Lamoreaux says he wants to be known as a career military and police officer who believes in God and the Constitution

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