A "Rich" Life – Flirting with Death

By his own reckoning, WWII veteran James “Troy” Rich “nearly died 15 times – more lives than a cat.” He “was always a bit of a daredevil”, but not all of his close encounters with death were due to his risk-taking. He was born on November 8, 1926 near McAdoo, Texas to Ezra and Ada Rich. His father, a farmer, was a veteran of WWI who, among other responsibilities, shoed horses for the Army in Bulgaria. Troy's brother also served during WWII as an airplane mechanic in the Army Air Corps.

Troy graduated from McAdoo High School in 1944 and was drafted into the Army on March 26, 1945. After completing eight weeks of basic training at Camp Walters near Mineral Wells, Texas, his unit was ordered to ship out for overseas deployment. After undergoing a series of immunizations, Troy “came down with a 107-degree fever and nearly died.” The deployment proceeded without the young soldier, and “many men in my unit were either killed or wounded, and I would have been one of them.” The 11th Airborne suffered 2,431 casualties during WWII. America had lost many of her young men, but V-J Day on Aug. 14, 1945 brought welcome relief. Troy said that he “jumped up and down and shouted for joy when he heard the bombs were dropped on Japan.” The war was finally over.