The Story of Lt. Richard Rall
The USS Rall (DE 304) was named in memory of Lieutenant (jg) R.
R. Rall, DC, USN, who received special
recognition from the US Navy for his development and implementation of a program which expedited treatment
of shipboard casualties. He was killed 7 December 1941 at Pearl Harbor.
|From the notes of Richard W. Graves, speaking to the Rall family and
shipmates at the 55th reunion of the USS Rall, September 13, 2000 in Albany,
I remember Fran Rall, the widow of Lieutenant Rall, at the commissioning of the USS Rall. Byron Rall was just a tot hanging onto his mothers skirt.
We were not told much about Lt. Rall at that time, other than that he died as a hero at Pearl Harbor. It was not until many years later that I learned the story of why a major combat vessel was named for him.
To go back in time, Richard Rall was born in 1909. He was always an excellent student. According to his sister, Mary, he had the rare ability to retain everything that he read. He graduated with honors in the depths of the Depression as a medical doctor.
Perhaps economic conditions influenced his decision to join the US Navy. At any rate, he easily passed the necessary Naval qualifying examination and joined the Medical Corps.
He had various posts, initially Bethesda Naval Hospital, then Guam, where Liz Rall was born. Later, he was assigned to the fleet at Pearl Harbor, and the battleship USS Pennsylvania. Those who knew him remembered his intelligence, caring manner, and his wonderful sense of humor.
When the attack came at Pearl Harbor, the Pennsylvania was in dry dock. The ship was struck by several bombs, one of which hit an aid station, killing Lt. Rall. Now, many other officers and men were also killed at Pearl Harbor. So, why name a Destroyer Escort in Lt. Ralls memory?
Lets go back to the days of the USS Constitution. In those days, the ship had a doctor (a sawbones) aboard. The battles were fought with grape shot and chain shot, as well as cannon balls. The maimed and wounded were taken below to the orlop deck where the sawbones would amputate limbs and cauterize the wounds with a red-hot iron.
Our Navy was not known for making changes rapidly, and plans for the treatment of casualties had not progressed much over the next 130 years.
Lt. Rall proposed a plan for aid stations and the placement of first aid boxes around the ship. He proposed additional first aid training for all hands.
Being intelligent and well liked, he was apparently able to obtain the ear of the admirals. His recommendations were put into place and, as a result, many lives were saved. For this service, he was recognized as a hero.
As fate would have it, Lt. Rall was killed in one of those supplementary aid stations.
Aboard the USS Rall, the kamikaze hit destroyed our sick bay. The alternate surgery was the officers wardroom. It was stocked with surgical instruments. The mess table became an operating table.
We had first aid boxes at every battle station and crewmen trained in first aid. Many of you here tonight remember using those bandages, sulfa packs and morphine surettes. The credit goes to Lt. Rall. It is safe to speculate that his program saved the lives of a good number of our shipmates.