Richard O. “Dick’ Culver, Jr., went to join his heavenly Marine Corps brothers on February 24, 2014, at Hospice House in Hayden, Idaho, at the age of 77 years.
Dick was born on April 9, 1936, on Alcatraz Island, Calif., to Richard O. Culver, Sr., and Sara Culver. His father, Richard, was a security guard lieutenant when the Alcatraz federal prison opened. We are not aware of anyone else who was actually born on the island while it was a federal prison; the family lived on the island from 1934 to 1938.
Dick’s family moved to Hopewell, Va., when he was a young lad, where he was raised and obtained his grade school and secondary school education.
Dick graduated from high school in 1954, and then attended Virginia Military Institute (VMI) as a member of the Marine Corps Reserves. Upon his graduation from VMI with a bachelor’s degree in physics, he waited until the day of the Marine Corps birthday and then enlisted into active service November 11, 1958. Dick later received his master’s degree in physics.
Dick went through the ranks as an enlisted man, and attended Officer Candidate School (OCS), where he was commissioned as a second Lt. He was eventually promoted to Major, which rank he held when he retired. Dick was a third generation retired U.S. Marine Corps officer. While in the Marine Corps, Dick married Carolyn, and they had one son, James Culver. Dick and Carolyn were later divorced.
Dick married Gloria Bjorkland on March 2, 1987, in Coeur d’Alene, ID.
Dick was stationed for two tours in Vietnam, the first one from 1967-1968, where he received a Purple Heart for wounds he sustained on his first day of combat. He recovered from those wounds, led recon patrols, and completed his first tour of duty in Vietnam. He was returned to Vietnam for a second tour of duty in 1971-1972, toward the end of the conflict. In the last days of said conflict, Dick supervised the evacuation of embassy personal and civilians from the rooftop of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon.
During Dick’s second tour of Vietnam, he received the Silver Star for heroism in combat.
After Dick returned from Vietnam, he and U.S.M.C. Major Jim Land started the sniper school at Quantico, Va., and worked with Marine sniper Carlos Hathcock (92 confirmed sniper kills in Vietnam). The story of the U.S.M.C. Sniper School is played in reruns on the History channel, and/or the Military channel, where you can watch it. Look for its scheduling.
Dick was also on the Marine Corp pistol team, and performed competition shooting for the U.S. Marine Corps. While on active duty, Dick was an outside security guard for the U.S. Embassy in South Africa for a period of time. He was sent to Saudi Arabia as an instructor to train the Saudi Arabia Officer Corp for four years. After his return, he was the senior instructor at the Kellogg High School J.R.O.T.C. for five years.
Dick authored several articles on the Marine Corps and some of his experiences, including several in the Soldier of Fortune Magazine. He was a life member of the VFW Post 889.
After Dick and Gloria retired, they traveled extensively throughout the world, renewing acquaintances, and making many friends in the many countries they visited.
Dick was preceded in death by his parents, Richard and Sara Culver, of Dothan, Ala. He is survived by his wife, Gloria, of Coeur d'Alene, and his son, James, of Dothan, Ala.
Funeral services are pending. English Funeral Chapel is in charge of arrangements. After the funeral service, there will be a luncheon reception at the VFW post 889 in Coeur d’Alene. The final resting place for Dick will be at Arlington National Cemetery this spring. Please visit his online memorial at www.englishfuneralchapel.com