TSgt Richard Milton was born in Gordon, NE, and raised in Mellette County, Wood, SD. He had one brother named Lawrence. He graduated high school in Wood, SD. TSgt Milton was a member of the Masonic Lodge in Wood, SD, where he was a master mason. On October 24, 1951, Richard enlisted in the US Air Force. He married Verene A. Piper on March 31, 1957, and they raised two children, Terry and Richard, Jr. TSgt Milton was a career EOD Technician. He completed Basic EOD school in 1954 and was a veteran of both the Korean and Vietnam conflicts.
On April 7, 1972, TSgt Milton and his team where deployed on special assignment to a classified location (Pakse Laos – LIMA 11) to clear an ammunition supply point that had been destroyed by enemy fire. TSgt was assigned to 432d Munitions Maintenance Squadron, Udorn Air Base, Thailand. TSgt Milton was killed performing an extremely hazardous and dangerous EOD operation at a classified location near Pakse, Champasak, Laos. His team was tasked to clear an ammunition storage point (ASP) that had been blown up by the North Vietnamese Army. TSgt Milton was sitting in the back of the truck loaded with munitions that had been picked up. TSgt Marshall B. Dutton was driving the truck and SSgt J.L. Munsey sat in the passenger seat. The vehicle stopped and when SSgt Munsey noticed TSgt Milton standing and leaning over a box of BLU-24 bomblets. An explosion occurred and TSgt Milton was mortally wounded when he was struck by multiple shrapnel wounds. TSgt Dutton and SSgt Munsey exited the burning truck for safety with SSgt Munsey being injured. SSgt S.R. Payton removed a CBU container and was able to remove TSgt Milton from the back of the burning truck aided by SSgt K. Gustafson. MSgt J.H. Lawrence was able to put the fire out with a water jug. During disposal operations, TSgt Milton perished when one or more munitions items detonated.
TSgt Milton was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with the following citation: Technical Sergeant Richard D. Milton distinguished himself through meritorious service as a member of the 432nd Munitions Maintenance Squadron, Explosive Ordnance Disposal branch, Udorn Royal Thai Air Force Base Thailand from 21 January 1971 through 7 April 1972. During this period, while exposed to extreme danger from hostile forces, sensitive armed munitions, enemy booby traps and clandestine devices, Sergeant Milton successfully completed priority special missions at classified locations in a combat zone. While clearing explosive hazards from an ammunition supply point that had been destroyed by the enemy, Sergeant Milton lost his life. Through his heroic and unselfish service to his country, Sergeant Milton has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Awards and Decorations include:
Master EOD Technician
Bronze Star – For actions in 432nd Special Missions EOD Team
Purple Heart – KIA Laos 7 April 1972
Presidential Unit Citation
Outstanding Unit Award w/ 2 Oak Leaf Clusters and V device
Air Force Good Conduct Award – 3 awards
Army Good Conduct Award- 3 award knots
National Defense Ribbon – w/ 2 stars
Vietnam Service Ribbon – w/ 2 stars
Korean Service Ribbon – w/ 2 stars
Air Force Longevity of Service Ribbon – w/ 4 Oak Leaf Clusters (20 years)
NCO Academy School Graduate – 1965
Small Arms Expert Ribbon
Vietnam Gallantry Cross
United Nations Foreign Service Medal
Korean Presidential Unit Citation
Assignments and deployments include Philippines: 1952 Korea: 12 Jan 1953 – 16 Sept 1953 Sioux City AFB: 1953-1956 Leghorn, Italy: 1957-1958 – 7410 EOD SQ Spangdahlem AB: 1958-1960 7410 EOD SQ Mcchord AFB: July 1960-Dec 1965 Johnston Island: Dec 1965-Aug 1966 Mcchord AFB: Aug 1966-Feb 1968 Korea: Feb 1968-May 1968 Mcchord AFB: May 1968-Jan 1971 Udorn RTAFB: Jan 1971-April 1972.
TSGT Milton is survived by his two sons, Terry Milton and Ricky Milton.
Photo taken 20 January 1972, courtesy of Mr. Terry Milton and described as, “Richard Milton 20 year reenlistment and start of a 2nd tour of S.E.A..”