Richard Harsma

Richard Harsma’s Dedicated Career of Service

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HAYDEN – Richard Harsma served his country in the US Army from June 1960 to November 1963 after being drafted. Upon completing basic training, he was recruited by Military Intelligence and served his three year enlistment as a Special Agent. His job was to do extensive background checks on military personnel who were applying for security clearances. This required him to attain the highest level of security clearance himself. He completed basic training at Fort Ord, California, and then received specialized training at St. Louis, Missouri. He was then stationed in Maryland for the remainder of his enlistment. He rose through the enlisted ranks quickly, earning Staff Sergeant stripes by the end of his three year enlistment.

When his military obligation ended he was discharged and soon after married the girl of his dreams. They returned to Casper, Wyoming, where Richard had been a police officer before being drafted into military service. He was hired once again as a police officer, but found it to be too tame for him. He decided to apply to the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and was accepted into the California police academy in August 1966. He had a long and illustrious career with the LAPD, doing three years with the Equine Patrol unit and also a stint with the SWAT Team.

Two years into his career with the LAPD, he answered a call about a naked man with a rifle in an apartment complex. The “rifle” turned out to be a twelve gauge shotgun. The perp was whacked out on drugs, making for a very dangerous situation. As he was en route, the dispatcher came over the radio, reporting that an officer was down at the scene. He had been shot in the head and would not survive.

As Richard and his young partner cautiously approached the apartment, guns drawn and at the ready, the suspect was waiting for them. As they popped their heads around the corner of the building, Richard saw the man with the gun raised and immediately retreated as the man pulled the trigger. Richard was shot in the left arm from the forearm up to the shoulder. His young partner took the blast in his left hand. With that they completely retreated, leaving the job to the SWAT Team, who dispatched the man as he refused to surrender.

In another incident Richard was forced to take the life of a suspect who was actively engaging the police with gunfire. Richard retired from the LAPD in January 1999 after a dedicated 32-year career. Long after retirement, Richard received the Purple Heart medal for his injury. At age 86 he still strikes an imposing figure at 6’2″ and his mind is as sharp as a tack. We salute Richard and all veterans who have given of themselves to serve and protect this great nation and we thank them for their service.