Upper Iowa University honored five alumni, including a Plant City man, as part of the recent Alumni and Awards Luncheon held during the University’s 2015 Homecoming celebration. President William R. Duffy II presented the Service to Country Award to retired Col. James Richardson (class of 1981) for demonstrating exceptional achievement in a professional career related to military service.
Richardson is a 2002 graduate of the United States Army War College.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserves in 1979 while a student at UIU. As part of the Mariana Boat Lift in 1980, he was federalized to assist in moving Cuban refugees to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin, for which he was awarded the Humanitarian Service Medal.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology at UIU, he was commissioned in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1981. He served seven years as a combat engineer in Europe. In 1988, he transferred into the U.S. Army’s Special Operations Command, where he spent the remainder of his 28-year military career. His military service included two combat deployments in Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm and Operation Joint Forge.
Richardson’s awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Joint Meritorious Service Medal, Marine Corps Combat Action Ribbon, two campaign medals, multiple unit citations, U.S. Army Master Parachutist badge, as well as parachutist badges from eight foreign nations.
He retired in 2007.
He continues to serve his nation as a counter-terrorism specialist at U.S. Central Command. He is also an active member of Upper Iowa’s Military and Veteran’s Service Center initiative.