H/T The Chicago Tribune.

R.I.P.Staff Sergeant Jarvis Richards.

Jarvis Richards was a World War II veteran who owned several gas stations in the Chicago area. (Family photo)

As a staff sergeant with the U.S. Army’s 1st Ranger Battalion during World War II, Jarvis Richards was leading a small platoon through a village in Belgium when he and his men came under Nazi fire.

After an intense firefight, Richards and three American soldiers were taken prisoner and lined up against a wall with guns pointed at them, according to his family. “He thought it was all over,” said his daughter, Darlene Schofield.

But, as he later told it, a tank rolled up and out climbed a German officer, who ordered the soldiers to hold their fire. He motioned Richards over, and with the help of a translator, conducted a brief interrogation, Schofield said.

The Americans were taken to a nearby Nazi prisoner camp, where Richards withstood hard labor for several months before escaping and meeting up with Allied forces, Schofield said.

“He had a lump on the side of his head that never went away from the butt of a gun,” she said.

Richards, 93, of Schiller Park, a decorated World War II veteran , died of natural causes May 12 at The Grove of Northbrook, an assisted living facility, his family said.

As a prisoner of war, Richards slept in a dilapidated shack, was unable to bathe and was given minimal daily rations of cabbage soup and a potato. “He was skin and bones by the time he escaped,” his daughter said.

“He was my hero,” said Marvin Hanks, a Vietnam veteran who, for the past year, each month, has with his dog, Brandy, visited Richards at his bedside as part of the Lutheran Church Charities Kare 9 Military Ministry program.

Born in Evanston and raised in Wilmette, Richards was a graduate of the Glenwood School for Boys, a military academy. After serving in the National Guard, he joined the Army in 1943, trained with the 1st Ranger Battalion and was sent overseas.

Upon his military discharge in late 1945, Richards moved to California, where he lived for several years, before returning to the Chicago area. He owned and operated gas stations in Chicago and Glenview, and worked as a truck driver in construction before retiring.

“We owe guys like Jarvis a lot,” Hanks said. “It’s because of them that as Americans we’re free today.”

Survivors also include a son, Jarvis Jr., a daughter, Jacqueline; a brother, Oliver; and three grandchildren.

Services were held.

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