Marine Corps Mustang Founder Recognized


Last Friday, family, friends, Marines and veterans gathered at Vansant-Mills Funeral Home in Clinton to honor the life of Capt. Robert Richter, Sr., USMC (ret.).
Richter passed away at age 85 on Jan. 21. He enlisted in 1956, when he was 19 years old. During a career of more than 20 years, he rose to the rank of officer.
In 1985, Capt. Richter founded the Marine Corps Mustang Association for Marines like himself, who served as an enlisted person and earned promotion to officer.
The Marine Corps Mustang Association is based in Philadelphia, Penn., with chapters in the United States.
Rev. David Mills conducted Capt. Richter’s funeral, with veteran Sam Gibbons reading the military service. Capt. Richter lay in a flag-draped coffin in his Marine Corps uniform, blue coat with a row of medals, white gloves and white belt, his red Marine Corps League cap folded above his head.
Son Robert Richter, Jr., said his father, a long-time Clinton resident, had been admitted to a hospital in Kansas City with pneumonia, but was expecting to go home. Offering words of comfort to the family, Rev. Mills compared the temporal life of humans to the life of a soldier, who spend much of their lives in tents or other temporary lodgings, but always long for home.
“Our flesh is just a tent that is taken down,” Rev. Mills said. “Our new homes are our homes forever.”
Daniel Beebe, chaplain of the American Legion Post, read the closing prayer, then an honor guard of Marines from Belton, Mo., composed Sgt. Jeff Kellum, Brice Townsend and Fred Stewart, marched up the aisle. Two of them stood at attention at either end of the coffin, after saluting, held the flag from the coffin level while outside the chapel, three Marines fired a gun salute, followed by Gibbons playing Taps.
Then the Marines folded the flag and presented it to Richter’s sons, “as a symbol of appreciation on behalf of the President of the United States, the Commandant of the Marine Corps and a grateful nation for their father’s faithful service.”
Asked what led his father to found the Mustang Association, Robert Jr. said it was something his father started thinking about.
“The Navy had a Mustang group, and Dad thought they (the Marines) needed one, too,” Robert Jr. said.
The sons received a letter of condolence from an officer of the association, who said the members will be informed on his passing. Its website,, has a paragraph about Capt. Richter below its symbol, the red and black Marine Corps seal of anchor, globe and eagle, flanked by two Mustang horses.
Music at the funeral included “Amazing Grace” and “The Old Rugged Cross,” the line “Til my trophies at last I lay down” particularly appropriate for a decorated veteran. Trophies can mean objects won in battle or awarded for valor, according to a commentary on the hymn, and also symbolize the reward for striving to live a life of Christian service.
Rev. Mills also read two poems: “The Last Tattoo,” and “The Few.” Referring to Hebrews Chapter 12, Rev. Mills said that Robert Richter was surrounded by a cloud of witnesses when he was baptized into the Catholic faith as a baby, and again by those gathered in the chapel that day to mark his passing.
As well as Robert, Jr. and son Gene Richter, Robert Richter, Sr., is survived by 10 grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren, many of whom attended the funeral.
Robert Richter, Sr. was born on May 5, 1937, in the Bronx, New York. He worked in Philadelphia after retiring from the military, Robert Jr. said. His body will be interred at Lakeview Memorial Park in Cinnaminson, New Jersey, a suburb across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.