Story By Iesha Little, 11th Signal Brigade Public Affairs
As a child, George Richardson often woke up at 4 a.m. to milk the cows, separate the milk and tend to the pasture on his family’s farm, all before he and his siblings would walk two “country” miles to school.
“On my family’s farm, there were cows and pasture; all of that had to be tended to,” Richardson said. “The only thing that came before tending to the farm was church on Sunday.”
The responsibility and traditional family values that Richardson attained in his youth laid the foundation for his highly-acclaimed work ethic and faith.
“I attribute a lot of my hard work and faith to my mother,” Richardson said. “She was a great example. She was a World War II veteran.”
After 28 years in the United States Navy and 22 years as an Occupational Safety and Health Administration manager, “Safety George” Richardson, 11th Theater Tactical Signal Brigade’s OSHA manager, retired – concluding 52 years of government service.
“I entered the United States Navy at 18 years old, delayed entry,” said Richardson. “I was a part of the All-State Kansas boot camp company. We left on a train from Dodge City, Kansas, to San Diego.”
While enlisted, Richardson became a Navy builder. He was tasked to build and repair wood, masonry concrete and steel structures; read and interpret blue prints; and make estimates of material, labor and equipment requirements.
“I have been all around the world building infrastructure and making sure Seabees did it safely,” Richardson said.
Richardson began his OSHA career in 1984.
His most notable tour was to Subic Bay, Philippines, for Operation Kicking Ash: The Seabees of Operation Fiery Vigil June 1991 – a relief operation for the eruption of Mount Pinatubo. During this operation, Richardson’s duties and recovery of ash from the Mount Pinatubo volcano were hazardous because the operation happened during a typhoon. Richardson was a part of a group of eight Seabees who fearlessly conducted 24/7 safety operations to keep the approximately 3,000 Seabees supporting the operation safe.
Richardson retired from the Navy April 30, 1995, in Millington, Tennessee, and married his wife, Frances, on his family’s farm in Kansas in November that same year.
After retirement, Richardson went on to continue his work with OSHA, working for the government.
“It was something my heart led me to do,” he said.
Richardson has been with 11th TTSB for 11 years and has managed all safety, occupational and environmental aspects in the fields of safety.
Richardson was instrumental in coaching, training and mentoring numerous battalion and company safety officers, which reduced accidents, incidents and injury rates.
“I do it for the Soldiers,” Richardson said. “It brings me delight to meet a brand new second lieutenant and give them coaching, training and mentoring on III Corps initiatives and the like. My heart feels wonderful that I impacted them.”
Richardson had one more reason for returning to work after his first retirement.
“After retirement, I had to find something else to do or me and my wife would gritch,” George chuckled.
“When people see me that know George, they say, ‘Hello Mrs. Safety,’” Frances said.
Many agree “Safety George” is a likable man, and “he takes safety very seriously,” Frances said.
“Safety for George isn’t just a job, it’s a way of life,” she said. “He will take the time to mentor and advise anyone when it comes to safety. He’s a stickler for following the regulations and has absolutely no problem with shutting something down if it’s harmful for Soldiers.”
The Richardson’s daughter, Dawn Meskill, said, “Dad is one who doesn’t beat around the bush with anything, especially his job.”
“He will tell you that being safe means everything,” Meskill said. “He has shown me what it means to go the extra mile, do things right the first time and to always do your best.”
“Safety George” now plans to volunteer with 11th TTSB after helping his wife clean and down-size their home. He believes that his faith has not only carried him through his everyday life but also his career.
“Safety was something that was laid on my heart to do,” Richardson said. He then quoted Proverbs 21:31. “‘For the horse is prepared against the day of battle, but safety is of the Lord.’”