Richard Alonzo Lewis was born in Piqua, Ohio, on August 3, 1921.1 He was the son of Wilbert “Webb” and Leila Meir Lewis. Lewis had two brothers, Wilbert Lee and Donald Frederick, who both served in the military. His father retired from the U.S. Army as a colonel after serving with Troop F, 107th Cavalry beginning in 1920.2 He later was an electrician.3 Wilbert died on April 15, 1992, and Leila died on April 17, 1959.4
Lewis and his brother, in 1936, were chased by a raging bull while mushroom hunting and scrambled up a tree where they remained for many hours until the bull became tired of waiting for them to come down.5 Lewis married Dorothy “Jane” Dennis on November 29, 1941, in Greenville, Indiana.6 They had five children, Dick, Dennis, Thomas, Suzanne, and Jane Ann.
Lewis served in the U.S. Army from August 7, 1938, until November 20, 1963. During his twenty-five year career in the U.S. Army, he was sent overseas during World War II and served during the Korean conflict. Lewis was assigned to various military locations before his retirement from the Army, including the Iowa Ordnance Plant in 1956 and Germany in September 1959. His final posting was in 1962 at Fort Leonard Wood Military Base in Pulaski County, Missouri, where he retired on November 23, 1963, as a Lieutenant Colonel.7 He earned a Purple Heart, Silver Star with oak leaf cluster, and Bronze Star Medal with three oak leaf clusters.8
In 1942, Lewis was somewhere in the South Pacific serving with the 37th Division, while at home, Mrs. Lewis gave birth to their son.9 In July 1943, his father was stationed on a Pacific Island and promoted from major to lieutenant colonel, while at the same time, on the same island, Richard was promoted to chief warrant officer. At that same time, brother Lee was missing in action in the European Theater.10 In 1945, Lewis was in Germany, brother Lee, a sergeant in the Army, was home on leave after being liberated from a German prison camp, and brother Donald, a fireman 2C in the Navy, was also home on leave after serving with the Atlantic Fleet Destroyer Escort.11 He volunteered for special training in underwater demolition and other amphibious warfare operations.
After leaving the service, Lewis worked at the Iowa Ammunition Plant in Burlington, Iowa. He started out as chief of guards, was later production manager, and then was assistant head of production. He retired in 1975.12
The Iowa Army Ammunition Plant (IAAP) manufactures and delivers large caliber items for the Department of Defense using modern production methods in support of worldwide operations. IAAP is located on 19,011 acres with 767 buildings, 271 igloos, and a storage capacity of 1,100,775 square feet.13
Lewis was a member of the Masonic Lodge and was active in the Republican Party. He also served on the Burlington Community School District School Board and the Des Moines County Board of Supervisors.14
Richard Lewis died on October 27, 2013, in Burlington, Iowa. He was survived by his wife, Jane, five children, sixteen grandchildren, and several great-grandchildren.15 Jane died on August 22, 2014.16