Richard Passer, First Cavalry, A/2/20 Blue Max Army Crew Chief.
More of a superhero than he will ever know.
When I finally found Rich, he stole my heart with these words:
"I've been looking for your brother for 48 years."
Rich is the reason I started working hard on the book in 2017 when I found him.
He's also the reason I put the book on hold in 2018 when it hurt him to even talk about Larry, knowing he had passed.
I proceeded with a vengeance in January 2019, when Rich asked me in an email to tell the whole story of my brother's valiant service.
Larry mentions Rich 20 times in his letters from Vietnam. They spent many waking hours together and tried to go on the same missions whenever possible. The BEST stories about Larry's days in Vietnam came from Rich - he knew Larry well. When I first asked him if he knew who Larry Smith was in Vietnam, he replied: "If he's the crazy SOB from the First Cav, then yes, I know your brother"
Rich was Larry's best friend, according to Larry's own words. His partner in combat. His ride or die. His bank, and his back. Rich paid for my brother's recorder, so he could send us audio messages. Two of those are in my possession, shared in the book, complete with helicopter background noises, as Larry recorded them as he stood beside the landing zone. Priceless, precious words from a homesick soldier.
According to Larry's letters, Rich fell in love with my sister Joanna's picture, wrote her poems and letters, and bought her perfume. Rich pleads the fifth.