Richard Postier-Courage to Serve
Updated: Feb 19
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"True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the courage to surpass others at whatever the cost, but the courage to serve others at whatever the cost.” -- Arthur Ashe
Richard J. Postier, Waist Gunner on the Rum Boogie Crew, was no stranger to tragic events -- one took place when he was very young, and another happened later in life. In between those two tragedies, he courageously served his country during World War II, witnessing death almost every day. After the war was over, he came home and became an integral part of his community. Without a lot of fanfare, he had the courage to serve others at whatever the cost.
Tragedy first struck Dick Postier when he was only four weeks old: his mother died from the flu. As a result, he and his older sister were raised by their grandparents. Tragedy struck again when his first wife Ellen, who he had been married to for 33 years, died from cancer. For many people, these two events might have had a crippling effect on their lives - one from which they would have never recovered, but that wasn't the case for Mr. Postier. In every aspect of his life, he continued to quietly contribute in every way he could.
As a waist gunner, Dick's primary duty was to defend the aircraft against enemy fighters. This wasn't an easy thing to do. The two waist gunners on a B-17 were located almost directly opposite one another which, at times, made maneuvering their guns and themselves extremely difficult. Frostbite was also an issue as the gunners stood near open window areas. Of course, the worst part was the fact that they were shooting and killing other human beings who were also trying to shoot and kill them.
In 1975, Dick married his second wife, Sheila. (In the picture left, Sheila and Dick are in the middle.) She is one of two crew wives who are still alive today. They were married for 25 years and had four daughters. Dick was very active in Rochester city government, including over 21 years on the City Council; he lead the group as President for 18 of those years. He was also one of the original members of the 8th Air Force Historical Society of Minnesota, which began in 1982. He served as President of that group in 1986.
Other service positions which Dick held over the years included the Olmsted County Fair Board, President of the Southeastern Association of County Fairs, Founder and First Commodore of the Rochester Boat Club, as well as memberships in the Eagles Lodge, American Legion, Elks Lodge, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
In 1984, Dick wrote a heartfelt letter to some of the Rum Boogie Crew members about a possible reunion; he needed help locating those he hadn't yet been able to find. The crew had not had any contact with each other since the completion of their 25th mission, over forty years earlier. A portion of that letter appears below: The letter concludes, "God willing, we will make this [the reunion] a successful mission."
Coming up in my next blog: Was the mission successful?