Coast Guard Heroes: Richard T. Snyder

The Coast Guard Compass was proud to unveil the first 25 heroes the service’s new fast response cutters would be named for and we are even prouder to share the next 10 names with you in a continuation of our Coast Guard Heroes series. Over the next two weeks we’ll be sharing profiles of the namesakes of the Coast Guard’s fast response cutters, from legends of the U.S. Life Saving Service to courageous men who served during the Vietnam War. Today, we share with you the story of Richard T. Snyder.

Written by Christopher Havern

LST-168 on beach after conducting a landing. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

LST-168 on beach after conducting a landing. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Richard T. Snyder was born in Clyde, Ohio, on Nov. 25, 1922. He graduated from Clyde High School on May 28, 1940, and after working as a welder, he enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard in Cleveland, Ohio, on Dec. 29, 1941. While initially training at the Coast Guard station in Ashtabula, Ohio, he later trained as a boatswain’s mate at Manhattan Beach Training Station.

He was eventually assigned to the Captain of the Port, Cleveland, until he was assigned to Landing Support Tank, or LST, Flotilla 8 on Feb. 11, 1943. He was subsequently assigned to LST-168 and by Feb. 1, 1944, he attained the rank of boatswain’s mate first class.

On April 19, 1944, Snyder transferred to another Naval unit.

Just a month later, allied forces made their plan to invade the island of Biak, located at the western end of Papua New Guinea. The island dominated the entrance to Geelvink Bay and was already taken over by nearly 11,000 Japanese troops under the command of Col. Kuzume Naoyuki.

The U.S. Army’s 41st Infantry Division landed on the island of Biak on May 27, 1944. By late that afternoon, 12,000 troops had landed on the island, bringing with them 12 M-4 Sherman tanks, 29 field guns, 500 vehicles and 2,400 tons of supplies.

The service record photo of Richard Thomas Snyder. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

The service record photo of Richard Thomas Snyder. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

On that day as U.S. forces attacked Biak Island, Snyder was serving as a member of Navy Beach Party Number Six when members of a landing party were subject to severe hand grenade bombardment from Japanese troops in two caves camouflaged in the cliff near the beach.

Snyder procured a weapon and hand grenades and by tossing the grenades into the caves and subsequently killing four Japanese troops, Snyder eliminated the enemy resistance. By his initiative and resourceful fighting qualities under fire, he the defeated enemy resistance and made possible the expeditious landing of vital material without casualty.

For gallantry in action during the amphibious assault, Snyder was awarded the Silver Star. In his award citation, it was noted that, “Snyder’s forceful initiative, cool courage and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of grave danger were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

After the landings at Biak, Snyder would also participate in the landings at Morotai and at Lingayen Gulf in the PhilippinesSnyder was honorably discharged as a ChiefPetty Officer and separated from the service Sept. 13, 1945.

In addition to a Silver Star, Snyder was entitled to six bronze stars on his campaign ribbons which included the American Theater Ribbon, the Asiatic-Pacific Theater Medal, the Philippine Liberation Medal, a Letter of Commendation from General MacArthur for his actions in the Admiralty Islands landings, and the Good Conduct Medal. Snyder passed away on Nov. 25, 1989.

Map of the landing operations conducted against the Japanese on Biak Island.

Map of the landing operations conducted against the Japanese on Biak Island.

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