Pruter, Dick

Richard (“Dick”) Pruter was born August 10, 1927 in Chicago.  His father lost his job in the tough years of the 1930s though, so the family moved to Westside, Iowa.  By 1942 Dick lived in San Francisco near the Richmond Shipyard, and he worked at the Judson Pacific Steel Barge works.  He also worked at a dry dock in Oakland building C2 cargo ships while he attended junior college.  He had hoped to become a pilot.  At 17 Dick went to Pier 5 and  joined the Merchant Marines.  His first ship was the San Mateo Victory, though he was ashore and celebrated VJ Day on Market Street.  He did sail to Sasebo, Japan to deliver PX supplies of liquor and brandy, and he also had the occasion to visit many ports – Bristol, Liverpool, Saigon, and Batavia among them.  He transited the Panama Canal on six occasions and the Suez Canal five times. He graduated from a Blue Water Sailor to Able Bodied Seaman and sailed on a Liberty Ship to India.  Not long after, he was recruited by three federal marshals on a stop in Honolulu, and he went from Tripler Base to Ft. Ord to Schofield Barracks.  He was in the army now, ready to play his part in the emerging Cold War.  His journey to Korea started with a DC-4 Pan Am flight to Wake Island en route to Camp Drake, Japan.  He was assigned to a clerk-typist school.  From there he took the train to Sasebo and a ferry to Busan.  Most of his buddies weren’t so lucky as they transited by ship.  Dick was initially assigned to personnel but transferred to the 31st Infantry Line Co., or “The Polar Bears” of the 7th Division, where he was part of a  mortar platoon.  He was an Acting Platoon Sgt. for 6 months and earned the prized Combat Infantry Badge.  Dick was discharged home in April 1953, and he went on to earn a degree in electrical engineering; he decided to go back to sea with the Merchant Marines. Dick also married his fiance Agnes in June 1961, and the two of them went on to build their lives together in the decades that followed.  Crestwood students were able to zoom with Dick in April 2024.