PUTNAM VETERANS MUSEUM HOSTS WORLD WAR II VETERAN, 97, FORMER CARMEL RESIDENT
Lt. Richard G. Hopkins, USN Ret. and Daughter Donate Treasures of Storied Military Service
Carmel, NY, November 1, 2016 — Veterans and volunteers at the Putnam Veterans Museum recently hosted some very special guests. World War II veteran Lt. Richard G. Hopkins, USN Ret., and his daughter Susan Hopkins came to Veterans Memorial Park in Carmel to present the museum with artifacts from his service and Putnam County’s past.
Hopkins, 97, was born on Oak Street in Brewster, and his family moved to Carmel when he was young. Now residing in Westchester, Lt. Hopkins likes to visit the museum that exhibits ship models he donated in honor of his late brother, T/5 Reed Hopkins, member of the 1257 Combat Engineers Battalion, U.S. Army. Reed, also a Carmel native, died in France during World War II.
The ship models include the USS Decatur and USS Porter, two vessels on which Lt. Hopkins served during his 28 years of active duty with the U.S. Navy and an additional 2 years of service in the Reserves. The museum also displays a model of the USS Dahlgren, yet another model that Lt. Hopkins can detail from bow to stern. The USS Decatur and USS Dahlgren models were made in Sweden by a master ship model-maker; the USS Porter was made in Eastham, Mass., by a master ship model-maker.
The Hopkins family has deep roots in Putnam County’s history, so deep that they precede the Revolutionary War. Lt. Richard Hopkins is the sixth-generation descendent of Lt. Solomon Hopkins of the 6th Dutchess County Regiment with the New York Militia during the Revolutionary War. Solomon’s wife, Elizabeth Crosby, was the sister of Enoch Crosby, the famed Revolutionary War soldier and spy.
Susan Hopkins was pleased to present a framed drawing of the Enoch Crosby house in Brewster to complement the historical display that commemorates the soldier/spy story. “A member of the Daughters of the American Revolution Enoch Crosby Chapter gave it to me; and when I first saw the display here, I thought it would be perfect to donate it,” said Susan.
“We are so grateful to Lt. Hopkins for his service and the generosity of his family,” said County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “Adding this beautiful drawing of the Enoch Crosby house to our Veterans Memorial Museum is rare a gift. This historic treasure will be appreciated by many visitors for years to come.”
Putnam County residents and veteran-volunteers were on hand that day to host the Hopkins’. They included Jim McCarthy, Michael Tiren, and Jerry Imbo, all U.S. Army veterans. A representative from the Putnam County Historian’s Office was on hand to record this very special visit.
“I really enjoyed hearing Richard’s fascinating account of being part of the rescue of the USS Kearney (DD-432) off Iceland after it was torpedoed by U-boats,” said Jim McCarthy, “and the stories of his incredible world-wide adventures spanning the China Sea, Casablanca and Barcelona – when as an engineer he actually met and shook hands with Generalissimo Franco while onboard the USS Coral Sea.”
Not all of Lt. Hopkins years were spent at war on the high seas. There was a time when he was stationed at the Brooklyn Army Terminal, and for two years he was in charge of the heartrending job of bringing home the war dead. After 32 years in the service through wars and conflicts, Lt. Hopkins found it was time for a change. “I was up for Lieutenant Commander and they said I had to do three years more and I said, ‘You can have it!’, said Hopkins with a hearty laugh. “I got a chance to work for IBM up in Fishkill so I took it.”
On this sunny fall day, Lt. Hopkins donated his display case of service medals, ribbons and awards which include two World War II campaign medals, the World War II Victory medal, combat action ribbons and an impressive number of good conduct medals. The case will be prominently exhibited along with his service portrait, his brother’s portrait and the beloved ship models – a special and collective display of sacrifice.
Before leaving the museum, Lt. Hopkins stopped to admire another special exhibit.
“That’s the New York!” he exclaimed, pointing to the ship model of the USS New York LPD-21. This post-9-11 United States Navy warship’s bow was forged from the steel of the World Trade Center and its official motto is “Strength forged through sacrifice. Never Forget.”
Lt. Hopkins smiled and commended the veteran volunteers saying, “That’s good that you got that model!”
The Putnam County Veteran Memorial Park is located at 201 Gipsy Trail Road in Carmel. The Putnam Veterans’ Museum is open on Wednesdays from 10 am – 1 pm and is administered by the Putnam County Veterans Service Agency.