Richard Lloyd Eggers
REMEMBERING RICHARD LLOYD EGGERS EM 3c
By Joe C. Fling (Notes in italics by Charles R. Hinman)
One of the more interesting gravestones for one of Eagle Lake's war dead is the tombstone of Richard Lloyd Eggers in the Lakeside Cemetery. In addition to the usual information of dates of birth and death and branch of the military that Eggers served in, the stone is engraved with the image of a submarine conning tower with sea creatures swimming beside, which further indicates Eggers' military service.
Twenty year old Richard Eggers was serving aboard a submarine (USS S-18), stationed at San Diego, California in the fall of 1943, when he met his death in a freak accident.
Eggers was born August 13, 1923 in Bonus, the son of Richard L. and Geraldine Eggers. Eggers' father was killed in 1927 in an equally unusual threshing accident on Ernest Seaholm's farm. By the time of her son's entry into the service, Geraldine had remarried, to George Cason and had another son, George, Jr.
Submarines relied heavily on their batteries for underwater operations, and as such they were a major security concern, being as was supposed, a prime target for saboteurs. Eggers, who had reached the rank of electricians mate 3rd Class was on guard duty looking after the sub's batteries. Ironically, Eggers had just received promotion from EM-2c (sic), on December 1st, the day of the accident that claimed his life. (Note: He was actually promoted from F2 to EM3.) When his shift ended, another sailor came on duty to relieve him. As that man, following regulations, checked and adjusted his .45 automatic sidearm, the gun went off and the bullet hit Eggers in the abdomen.
Eggers was rushed to the naval base hospital in San Diego. Word quickly reached Eagle Lake. According to the Headlight, local physician J.R. Laughlin telephoned the base hospital on behalf of Eggers' mother but could not obtain any concrete information about Eggers' condition. Thereupon David Wintermann, who was at that time head of the local Red Cross arranged for Mrs. Cason to fly to California to be with her son.
Eggers' mother arrived at his side on December 2. Eggers was reportedly able to talk to his mother, and scores of visitors from among his shipmates but he died on the following Sunday afternoon, December 5, 1943 in that navy hospital.
Geraldine Cason holds a unique distinction among the mothers of men who died in World War II from Colorado County. Only she was able to go to her wounded son's side before he died and speak to him. All others got the news by telegram, weeks or months later, or found their sons listed only as 'missing' for over a year before being classified as 'lost' or 'killed in action.' And for most, the funerals were years after death, some as late as 1950, and many were never returned home for burial, and a few were never recovered from the sea.
In fact, Eggers was only the second war-time burial of a serviceman in the city of Eagle Lake (John Westmoreland being the first in January, 1943) and would be the last until Maurice Parker was brought home from Bermuda and laid to rest in the Masonic cemetery December 9, 1947. The intervening four years saw countless memorial services and news of burials in foreign lands, but no actual funerals in the city for any war dead.
Mrs. Cason arrived back in Eagle Lake two days after her son's death on the train bearing Richard's remains, accompanied by a military escort. The funeral was held at Colley Memorial Methodist Church in Eagle Lake on December 11, with Rev. J.N. Thompson, pastor of Garwood Methodist officiating. Ten sailors came from California to guard and bear the casket. A 13 year old bandsman, Draper Stephens played 'taps' on the bugle. Eggers' body was laid to rest near the top of the hill in Lakeside Cemetery, where he would be joined on November 10, 1947 by his cousin Glenn E. Eggers, who gave his life serving in an armored regiment in China. Eggers was survived by his mother and ten year old George, Jr.
USN photo, via Navsource, courtesy of CTM Russel Rau, former COB of SS-238 Wahoo, submitted by Bill Rau and Paul Crozier. The photo is contemporary with the incident in this story, 1943.
Photo courtesy of Mary Ann Richardson via On Eternal Patrol
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