By Stephen E. Lipken
U.S. Army veteran, Concordia College Adjunct Professor of Business Ethics and Entrepreneurial Studies and civic leader Michael P. Fix, 74 delineated the accomplishments of local WWI Medal of Honor Recipient Second Lieutenant Richard W. O’ Neill, Valhalla at a meeting of the Anne Hutchinson Chapter of National Society, Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR) in the Bronxville Library Yeager Room on Saturday, March 3rd.
NSDAR 2nd Vice Regent Marian Moore introduced 1st Vice Regent Cindy Cristofaro, who said that DAR supports American Indian schools and Youth Summer Camps. “Scholarships available for Native American youth are the American Indian Scholarship, Frances Crawford Marvin Scholarship and Anne Trevarthen Memorial Scholarship,” Cristofaro noted.
“This is the story of Richard W. O’Neill,” Fix began. “His mom and dad were Irish who came to America from Liverpool, England to Hell’s Kitchen where Richard was born on August 28, 1897, the oldest of 13 children. He joined the New York National Guard 69th Infantry Regiment which became the 165th Infantry, incorporated into the 42nd Rainbow Division.”
Fix went on to say that O’Neill served with William J. Donovan on the Texas/Mexico border prior to WWI. O’ Neill would later work for Donovan who was Head of Office of Strategic Services.
“In France, Adjutant Joyce Kilmer brings up O’Neill to defend the Ourcq River, later losing every man but himself. He jumps into a gravel pit with Germans who knocked the rifle out of his hands. O’Neill wound up being shot ten times but managed to kill five Germans in the pit with his pistol and tell Donovan where the German emplacements were.
“O’ Neill later participated in the battle of Meuse-Argonne where he received shrapnel. To the day he died, pieces of shrapnel in his legs would come up to the surface when he was in a hot tub. He received the Medal of Honor from General Fernand Foch at Fordham University on November 20, 1921.”
After the war, O’Neill was a concrete salesman for the George Washington Bridge and purchased a liquor store near the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, dying on April 9, 1982.