Iliff David Richardson (simultaneously US Navy Ensign and US Army Major)

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Iliff David Richardson (simultaneously US Navy Ensign and US Army Major)'s Geni Profile

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Iliff David "Rich" Richardson

Birthdate: (83)
Death: 2001 (83)
Immediate Family:

Son of Royal Roscoe Richardson and Velma Weston

Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Iliff David Richardson (simultaneously US Navy Ensign and US Army Major)

Iliff David "Rich" Richardson (April 9, 1918, Denver, Colorado - October 10, 2001, Houston Texas) was simultaneously a US Navy Ensign and a US Army Major whilst fighting with the Philippine resistance during World War II. He recounted his exploits to author Ira Wolfert, who published them in the book American Guerrilla in the Philippines in 1945. A character based on Richardson was played by Tyrone Power in the 1950 film of the same name.

Early life

Richardson was the only surviving child of Methodist Minister Royal Richardson, who died when Iliff was three years old. His mother Velma Weston Richardson taught Latin and music and raised Iliff in a variety of Colorado towns and her father's Nebraska ranch. After his death, the Richardsons went to live in Los Angeles.

Iliff studied at Compton Junior College, then travelled through Europe, the Near and Middle East, returning to the US after the fall of France in World War II.

Wartime career

In 1940 he was commissioned an Ensign in the US Navy and was posted to the USS Bittern, a minesweeper in the Philippines. He later transferred to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three, commanded by John D. Bulkeley. Richardson was the executive officer of PT 34. After it was sunk by the Japanese, Richardson served with the US Army, setting off demolition charges in Cebu City.

Richardson and a dozen Americans attempted to sail a native outrigger to Australia, but the boat was sunk in a storm. Richardson swam for 24 hours to the island of Mindanao, where he was chased by the Japanese. The men eventually joined the Philippine guerrilla forces. Richardson, a former ham radio operator, set up a radio network to keep the various bands in touch with each other and Allied forces in Australia. For his work, Richardson was made a US Army Intelligence major by General Douglas MacArthur, holding commissions in the army and navy simultaneously. He is the only person to receive consecutive medals in both the Army and the Navy.


After the liberation of the Philippines, Richardson transcribed his memoirs to Pulitzer Prize-winning war correspondent and author Ira Wolfert of the North American Newspaper Alliance. Wolfert turned it into a book, An American Guerrilla in the Philippines, which became both a Book-of-the-Month Club selection and a condensed book in the March 1945 Readers Digest. Darryl F. Zanuck of 20th Century Fox bought the film rights and had Lamar Trotti write a screenplay by August 1945. The end of the war led Zanuck to shelve all films with a World War II theme. It was eventually made five years after the end of the war. The name of the central character was changed to "Chuck Palmer" and he was given a fictional love-interest for dramatic purposes.

Post-war career

Following the war, Richardson married Coma Noel and lived in Houston, Texas, where he worked as a business executive, life insurance salesman and a consultant, as well as acting as technical advisor for several Hollywood films.

Richardson also attempted to manufacture and sell a single shot slamfire "Philippine Guerrilla Gun" shotgun through his Richardson Industries in New Haven, Connecticut, that he set up in 1946. With a wide variety of shotguns brought back from Europe and American manufactured weapons, it did not sell very well. Thomas F. Swearingen noted in his book World's Fighting Shotguns, "The American market would not tolerate such a primitive firearm, even as a curio."

Many years later, Richardson told a meeting of Eagle Scouts that he learned how to live as a guerrilla through his days in Los Angeles Boy Scout Troop 92.


liff David "Rich" Richardson, whose heroism battling the Japanese in the Philippine Islands after his PT boat was shot out from under him during World War II was memorialized in two books and two motion pictures.

Richardson, who was portrayed by Tyrone Power in the 1950 film version of Ira Wolfert's biographical novel.

As a Navy lieutenant in the South Pacific before the United States entered the war, Richardson volunteered for John D. Bulkeley's "expendable" motor torpedo boat (or PT) Squadron 3 that in 1942 brought Gen. Douglas MacArthur out of the Philippines as the Japanese overtook the islands.

The group's efforts were chronicled in the 1942 book by W.L. White, "They Were Expendable," and the 1945 motion picture of the same title directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne and Robert Montgomery as composites of the officers.

Film historian Leonard Maltin has described the movie as "one of the finest (and most underrated) of all WWII films, based on the true story of America's PT boat squadron in the Philippines during the early days of the war."

After his plywood speedboat was destroyed by the Japanese when the enemy took control of the Philippines, Richardson and a dozen Americans set out in a native outrigger to sail the 1,300 miles to Australia. The boat sunk in a storm.

Richardson swam for 24 hours to the town of Cantilan on the island of Mindanao. For three years, he worked in the guerrilla movement based on Leyte, becoming chief of staff to its leader, Col. Ruperto Kangleon.

It was the ever-resourceful Richardson who set up the radio network that linked about 50 guerrilla bands operating in the islands and served as "the light that led MacArthur back to the Philippines."

He also mapped minefields laid by the Japanese in Leyte Gulf to ease MacArthur's return and recapture of the strategic islands.

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Iliff David Richardson (simultaneously US Navy Ensign and US Army Major)'s Timeline

Age 83