March 19, 1947 (Norwalk, CT) – December 21, 1967; 20 years old; married to Barbara VanSteenburg Kaske; one child not born yet at time of death
Last local address: 20 Poplar Street, East Norwalk
Enlisted on October 22, 1967; MOS 11B10, Light Weapons Infantry
Service number: 52722617
Tour Start Date: October 22, 1967
25TH INFANTRY DIVISION, 27TH INFANTRY REGIMENT, 2ND BATTALION, COMPANY D
Casualty Location: Binh Duong, South Vietnam
Awarded Purple Heart Medal
Employed as a mechanic at Overton Motors prior to service.
As posted on vvmf.org, February 17, 2002 by Kristin Guido
You died 12/21/67 so far away from family and friends. Yet there were others with you who fought alongside you, and cared about you also. Some also made the ultimate sacrifice; some came home scarred by the memories. You were my first childhood sweetheart. If one can love so young, then we did. We went on to love others but remained friends and in doing so learned one of life’s most valuable lessons. Of all the people in my life, you had the most profound effect. And in the news of your Death was so devastating, I grieve to this day. God has recently blessed me by allowing me to be in contact with and meet some of the people from the 27th Infantry Wolfhounds. I joined their society to keep your memory alive. But my most treasured moment was to meet your daughter for the first time. We have vowed to stay close. You have 2 adorable grandsons and each resembles you. The oldest proudly carries your nickname “Rit”. Your legacy lives on. But you are sadly missed. I am planning on going to a reunion soon to see some of those I met in DC and also meet some of your other buddies I have been in contact with. This is helping to finally be able to deal with your death. I am also hoping to be in contact with Stanley and Angel’s family at some point. You each died a hear, trying to save the other. Perhaps you are the angels that I know watch over me. But one thing is certain: you are in a place that knows only peace. God called you home so you would suffer no more. And one day when my time has come, I pray I will be carried on the wings of an angel with red hair. Rest forever in peace in peace with God. I love you, dear Rit. ‘Til we meet again. Krissy.
Posted on vvmf.org June 1, 2003 by Landon McAllister
From The Norwalk Hour, January 2, 1968
The Vietnam War forced itself upon the consciousness of Norwalk Tuesday when the funeral cortege of another dead warrior wove through the uptown business district shortly after mid-day. PFC Richard F. Kaske was laid to rest in Riverside Cemetery and buried in a frozen hillside, the view from which encompasses the iced-over Norwalk River nearby and the snow-studded rocks of Cranbury in the distance. The cortege included two dozen cars, containing family and friends of the 20-year-old infantry man who died in Vietnam December 21 of burns inflicted by bursting anti-tank shells. Some shoppers, obviously aware of whose body was contained in the leading hearse, stopped in their tracks at the passing of the cortege, removed their hats and bowed their heads respectfully. Others, either unknowing or uncaring, looked briefly at the hearse and the bereaved family following, then continued on their way. Shortly afterward, at the gravesite in the cemetery, the family, clergy and ta military honor guard performed last loving acts for the son of Mrs. And Mrs. John Kaske and the husband of Mrs. Barbara Van Steenberg Kaske, all of 20 Poplar Street. “Greater love hath no man than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” Thus spoke St. Paul in the New Testaments, according to Reverend Richard N. Thomas, pastor of the East Norwalk Methodist Church. Reverend Thomas has conducted a short service earlier in the crowded quarters of the white church at East Avenue and Van Zant Street. He had referred more than once to St. Paul’s words in describing the unexplainable acts of man and God which so often seem to lead to tragic events of which PFC Kaske had become a part. “We are experiencing the evil of man organized in modern war. They told us World War I was the war to end all wars. They referred to World War II as the war which would make the world safe for Democracy. Somewhere we have missed our basic responsibilities. If only we could learn to practice what our Lord said: “Peace I leave with you.” Reverend Thomas, seeking to assuage the grief of the young veteran’s family, said: “I know it’s difficult to relate this death tin a far-off corner of the world to ourselves. But this life has been given for you and for me, in the line of duty and for his country. We must rededicate and reconsecrate ourselves to living together here in Norwalk in love. This life has been given so that life may go on. We must return after this day to our daily responsibilities, keeping our ideals in mind, so that this death shall not have been in vain.” Reverend Thomas had known PFC Kaske when the soldier had played for the basketball team at the church. Speaking specifically to the widow who is expecting, he said: “Ten years from now I’d like to meet this son or daughter and share the wonderful things I know about this fine lad.” Speaking to the family, he said: “It may be in the unspoken word or the firm handshake, but underneath it will be the dignity of man manifesting itself in the willingness to share your grief.” Reverend William F. Scheyd, assistant pastor of St. Mary’s offered a prayer for the repose of the soul of the veteran. The 18-year-old widow is a communicant at St. Mary’s. At the cemetery where the family was sheltered from the freezing wind by a small tent, Reverend Thomas crossed three white gladioli on PFC Kaske’s casket, blessed it, committed it and stood by as the military honor guard gave the rifle salute. A Norwalk High School student, Seth Abramson, blew “Taps.” The flag over the casket was folded, presented to Mrs. Barbara Kaske, whose head bobbed with sobs. Reverend Thomas moved over, looked the widow, the mother and father in the eye and smiled proudly upon them while wishing them courage. Reverend Scheyd took the widow in his arms, comforted her, and then she was alone.
Private Kaske is buried in Riverside Cemetery, Norwalk; Section 18, Plot 327.