by Carole Dean
It was in the 50’s and thank heavens Sandra Lunsford had a car. We were five ladies that spent each weekend together and her car gave us so much freedom, it let us zip around Lakewood, our stomping grounds, in Dallas, Texas.
Friday nights were always special. We would pile into the old Plymouth and head for the “hot spot” which in those days was a drive-in. We would usually get a coke and French fries to share because we were not there to eat, heaven forbid! We were there to check things out, like who’s dating whom? What were they wearing? Did they have make up on? Just important life-sustaining information for a teenager.
One night the 5 of us were in the car and we were talking to the car of guys next to us as we usually did. We never got out of the car, it was our safety zone. When things got boring or there wasn’t anyone interesting, we left. This night was special because I began an interesting conversation with a nice looking man who did not go to Woodrow Wilson High School or any other school in the area
The only problem was he looked “old” but his intellect compensated for it. We must have talked for almost an hour hanging out of the car windows. I found him to be most wonderful person I had ever talked to. He won my heart when he asked “What are you doing for the rest of your life?” After that Richard Herrin and I were inseparable.
My parents were most particular about the boys I dated but they let me go out with Richard because he was old enough to respect my father’s wishes and always brought me home at 10pm, I was only 16 at the time. I had to drag war stories out of him but I was very curious to know what happened to paralyze his left hand and finally he told me.
He enlisted in the war when he was 16 and served his country well. He was decorated and had a medical discharge keeping him out of any future battles. When the Korean War began he wrote to the Commandant of the Marines asking to re enlist saying he was “fit for duty and ready to serve his country”. The Marines gladly took him.
Richard was sent right to the thick of the war and he told me stories about these “hills” they had to capture and the amount of lives lost for just one hill. He never complained he was truly patriotic and sincerely believed in what he fought for.
One night during the Korean War, Richard told me he was on patrol when he took a bullet through his neck and passed out. The next thing he remembered was the feeling of a boot on his chest and he realized a Korean soldier was standing over him pulling a bayonet out of his chest.
The Korean left him for dead and moved on to kill other soldiers. Richard worked hard to stay awake because he thought if he passed out again he would die. He was feeling very weak and close to death from the loss of blood when a medic came by. Richard said “Get me to the hospital,” the medic said, “The next flight is almost full” and walked away. Richard could hear him saying, “This one looks pretty bad, we should take someone who has a better chance of living.”
Richard knew if he didn’t get on that flight he would die and he called the medic back and said, “I already have one Purple Heart, don’t give up on me, I can make it!” That was enough to get him on the flight. His faith was incredible, he knew laying there on that cold earth that he could live if he could just get to a hospital. He willed himself on that plane, they actually squeezed him in. He was the last man they took on that flight. Richard said he let the sound of the engines lull him to sleep despite the pain, knowing he would live.
Do you think he willed himself to safety? I do. I think his faith and his passion for living got him on that plane. This will power we have is our greatest asset. It’s different than force; it’s a way to make things happen with your mind, your belief and your determination. You know all those talents filmmakers like you have. It’s up to you to use this magnificent will power to bring your film to fruition. You need to want something so much that you are part creator in achieving it. You need to will the universe to comply with your wishes. Can you be that strong and unrelenting?
You know you can do it so it’s just a matter of willing it to be. Use all of your will power conjuring up visions and feeling into the completion. It’s your intentions created by your will power that makes it happen. You probably know the story of Spielberg getting on the lot at Universal but the best part is that he knew he would be a famous filmmaker and he befriended the projectionist. He actually talked him into playing his short film, Amblin, when the dailies were over so the top people could see his work. That’s how he got his first job. He willed it so.
Richard served his country again for President Kennedy in the Bay of Pigs…but that’s another story.