Every once in a while you run in to someone who is so devoted to a cause, they work at it full time with no pay. In Richmond, it is Jim Rippy, and the cause is to help veterans to obtain benefits that are rightfully theirs.
In 1968, Jim was married with one child, and was drafted into the Army. His pay as a draftee Private was so low (under $150) that he was obviously going to lose everything.
He applied for OCS (Officers Candidate School), which raised his pay to over $1,000 a month, but required him to serve for an additional year.
The time was spent in Vietnam as a lieutenant, where he and his men were required to place signal equipment on the highest spot they could find. The Viet Cong were aware the Americans wanted that location, and so they came under heavy fire.
After his service ended, Jim returned to Richmond and had a successful ReMax office. After retiring from real estate, he became the Veterans Information Officer, now officially in charge of the homeless and employment for the 27,000-member State of Missouri VFW organization.
Most veterans who served overseas have the desire to go back. In 1999, Jim was able to fulfill that desire, and actually find the hill where he came under fire. He also walked into a museum in Hanoi, and came face to face with a stuffed Ho Chi Minh who was the leader of the enemy, sitting in a chair.
Jim went in to the souvenir shop in the VA Hospital in Kansas City to buy an Army Vietnam cap. Lo and behold, it was made in China.
Jim Rippy is now wholly responsible for every VA souvenir shop having some caps and other merchandise displayed with a sign that says Made In USA.
Jim receives on the average eight to 10 calls a day from veterans needing help. One day, four of those calls were from me. This country needs more Jim Rippys.
Jack can be reached at PO Box 40, Oak Grove, MO 64075 or jack...@aol.com. Visit www.jackremembers.com