Dale G. Rich, of Route 3 Nevada, passed away Jan. 29, 2008, at 10:50 a.m., at St. John's Regional Medical Center, in Joplin, surrounded by his loving family.
Dale was born Sept. 20, 1931, in Nevada, to the union of Roy and Vera Angelina Church-Rich. Dale had an older brother and sister who were twins, Derild Rich and Doris Rich Brown. After the death of his mother, his father remarried. Roy and Ruby Imler-Rich continued to raise their family in Nevada.
After he graduated from Nevada High School, he joined the United States Air Force, in 1949. He retired with the rank of chief master sergeant after 20 years of service, in 1970. He had the opportunity to travel and see the world with his military career. Places of military service were Walker Air Force Base, Roswell, N.M.; Whiteman Air Force Base, Knob Noster, Mo.; Ben Guerir Air Force Base, in Morocco; Hunter Field Air Force Base, Savannah, Ga.; Westover Air Force Base , Chiccopee, Mass.; Keflavik Air Force Base, in Iceland; Langley Air Force Base, in Hampton, Va., and Da Nang Air Force Base, in Vietnam. Additional temporary duty services also include Guam and England. His assignments included the Strategic Air Command, the Air Defense Command, and the Tactical Air Command.
He was very humble about his military service, and when asked he would only say, "he was only doing his job," but his military achievements include: the Bronze Star, Air Force Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Presidential Unit Citation, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, Vietnam Defense Service Medal, Marksmanship Medal, Noncommissioned Officers Academy Ribbon, Army Good Conduct Medal, and the Longevity Ribbon. He also made Air Force history by being the youngest to attain the rank of chief master sergeant while he was stationed at Langley Air Force base, in Hampton, Va.
During his Air Force career he was involved in chemical, biological and nuclear warfare in conjunction with preventive measures. He observed nuclear explosions and spent time monitoring explosive sites. Later in his career he cross-trained in munitions and thereafter worked with loading and handling of weapons, including bombs. He was responsible for storage for bombs and loading of planes. This was during the Cold War with the Soviet Union and there were planes in the air at all times. He also served during the Cuban Crisis and spent several tense days in a mountain bunker with Tactical Air Command. In 1969, he was ordered to Vietnam and assigned to the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing, at Da Nang. He was in charge of loading bombs and storing munitions.
He married Vivian Phyllis Winter, on April 8, 1956. His children have always said he took a country girl as his bride and showed her the world. She survives of the home.
Additional survivors include one son, Terry Dale Rich, of Nevada; three daughters, Twila Bell, of Webb City, Tenny Epperson and husband Wayne of Stella, Mo., and Trica Peelen and husband Tom, of Nevada. Grandchildren are Jared and Phillip Bell, Daniel, Andrew, and Nicole Epperson, and Steve and Samantha Peelen. He was preceded in death by his parents, step-mother, and siblings. Additional survivors that were very special to him were his cousin Will Rich, his wife Sue, and family, and Sharon Beisley, all of Nevada. Janice Miller and husband Elmer, of Murdock, Neb., nephews Doug and Brian Brown and families, and two nieces Sherry Stone and Linda Rader and families.
On July 1, 1970, he retired from the Air Force and returned to Nevada, to live with his family. He became employed at Crane Plumbing, in Nevada, on Sept. 15, 1970, as a shipping clerk and 27 years later retired at the age of 65 from the position of materials manager. During those years he and his wife purchased their farm south of Nevada, where they reared cattle, collies and their four children.
In 1996, after retiring from Crane, he and his wife, Phyllis, contracted with Butterball, and built poultry barns on their farm. In a three-stage operation that produces 3.6 million pounds of turkey meat a year. In December 2006 he made the choice, with his wife, to deed his farm to his youngest daughter and her husband.
He was also a member of the United Methodist Church, where he served on the administrative board for many years. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the United Methodist Church, in Nevada, in care of Evergreen Memorial Chapel.
Pallbearers will be Jared Bell, Phillip Bell, Daniel Epperson, Andrew Epperson, Steve Peelen and Jason Fleener.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, Feb. 2, at 10 a.m., at the United Methodist Church, Nevada. There will be a private viewing Friday, at 6 p.m., followed by a public viewing at 7 p.m. The family will not be in attendance. Interment will be at Newton Burial Park following the services.
View obituary at www.evergreenmemorialchapel.com.