“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Excerpt from the “Gettysburg Address” by President Abraham Lincoln
This Memorial Day the University Libraries of Augusta University invite you to join us in paying homage to those who gave their lives in service to our country, by highlighting a 1940 graduate of the Medical College of Georgia, Captain Richard F. Halford, MD (USAAF), “the only Alumnus to lose his life in the line of duty World War II.”
Richard F. Halford was a native of Augusta, GA and grew up in a home at 822 Chafee Avenue, which is now a parking lot on the Augusta University Health Sciences Campus. He attended the Academy of Richmond County and the Junior College of Augusta, and he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Georgia. In the fall of 1936, Halford began his medical career as a first-year student at the Medical College of Georgia, which at that time was known as the UGA School of Medicine. Halford graduated from MCG with his Doctor of Medicine degree in June, 1940.
The above is the inside cover of one of three textbooks that belonged to Capt. Richard F. Halford, MD and are now housed in the Historical Collections and Archives (HCA) in the Robert B. Greenblatt, MD Library. Given the wording of the inscription, we can assume Halford kept this textbook of surgery with him while he was in service in the US Army Air Force during World War II.
Halford began an internship at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida where he registered for the draft in October of 1940. It could not be ascertained where he was living at the time, but he enlisted for active service on September 1, 1941, three months before the United States entered World War II after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Halford was only 25 years old when he enlisted.
Research has revealed that Halford was the squadron surgeon for the 48th Fighter Squadron; and that he was killed in a B-17 tragedy that claimed the lives of thirteen other servicemen. No other details about the tragedy have been found. The Augusta Chronicle reported on September 3, 1944 that Halford’s parents had received a telegram from the war department stating their son had been killed in action on the island of Corsica on August 17. Dean G. Lombard Kelly, of the Medical College of Georgia, announced the death of Halford during a faculty meeting on September 8th.
Halford’s father passed away in 1945 and his mother donated her son’s textbooks to what is now the Greenblatt Library. In May of 1948, Mrs. Minnie Halford gave a memorial plaque to the First Baptist Church of Augusta, given in memory of her son and dedicated to the memory of the members of the church who died in World War II. A few months later in December, Halford was buried in the Westover Memorial Park in Augusta where a funeral service was held.
The University Libraries of Augusta University remembers Captain Richard F. Halford, MD, and all the men and women who lost their lives while in military service for this country.
Note: This blog was written with assistance from David Kearns, Senior Staff Assistant for Reference and Government Information at Reese Library, who also provided the photo of the First Baptist Church of Augusta World War II plaque.