Richard Kellahan, Interview by Jack Bass, 6 November 2008
Richard H. Kellahan was born on April 6, 1923, in Kingstree, SC. He was a member of The Citadel class of 1944 and left to join the Army with his classmates at the end of his junior year in 1943. Kellahan was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army after completing Officer Candidate School in May 1944 and was assigned to the 84th Infantry Division's 335th regiment.
Kellahan reflects on his wartime experience in Belgium and Germany, where he was captured and spent six months in a German prisoner-of-war camp. He arrived in Belgium in October 1944, prior to the Battle of the Bulge. While leading his platoon in the 3rd battalion's attack on the village of Lindern, Lt. Kellahan and his platoon expended all their ammunition and were captured by the Germans on November 29, 1944.
Kellahan was sent to Oflag 64 in Szubin, Poland. In January 1945, as the Russians advanced, he endured forced marches in the snow with temperatures as low as -20 ºF and on a bare subsistence rations. At first, he walked along with refugees fleeing the Russians and then spent a week in a German boxcar traveling before stopping at a camp near Potsdam, German. "We could see through the crack at the doorway if it was night or day. . . . One guy had dysentery. We all had to go and whatever. But they finally stopped the train and opened the doors and we got out. I fell out."
The Russians liberated Kellahan's camp on April 21, 1945, and he rode in a truck convoy to the Elbe River before ending at a hospital near Nancy, France. There he was put on a train to the French coast and later shipped from Le Havre to New York.
A Purple Heart recipient, Kellahan returned to Kingstree, South Carolina, and spent some time hunting and fishing. He did not return to The Citadel. He farmed and helped found the Williamsburg First National Bank, working there until 2000 as director and president.
This interview is a part of the "Citadel WWII Alumni History Project." With generous support from the Humanities Council of South Carolina (http://www.schumanities.org/), the Citadel Oral History Program collected thirty interviews with Citadel alumni regarding their experiences during WWII. Journalist and historian Jack Bass conducted the interviews during the Fall of 2008.They serve as a powerful testament to the veterans' experiences and their critical contributions to the war effort. The digital recordings and transcripts are part of The Citadel Oral History Program Collection at The Citadel Archives & Museum.
Interview transcriptions are intended to reflect the words and sounds of the audio recordings as closely as possible. Even the best transcriptions, however, are imperfect representations of the recordings. For a full discussion of The Citadel Oral History Program's transcription guidelines, consult the program's website.