By Paul Gable
A native of Troy, N. Y., Dick Haggerty joined the U. S. Air Force immediately after graduating from high school in order to receive some job training.
“I joined the Air Force right after graduating from high school,” said Haggerty. “It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.”
After completing basic training, Haggerty was sent to school to learn plumbing, a job which turned into a career after his four year enlistment.
“I had good mechanical aptitude, so I became a plumber,” said Haggerty. “It was good duty in the Air Force.”
When his training was completed, Haggerty was stationed at Bolling Air Force Base in the Washington, D.C. area.
“It was a spit and polish base,” he said. “We had 13 of the top generals in the Air Force stationed there, including Curtis LeMay when he was Chief of Staff.”
Haggerty worked on the pipes at LeMay’s house and also was involved in the installation of a fish pond for LeMay’s wife. However, it was during a softball game late in his enlistment, which provided him with a career.
“I was playing softball and one of the umpires was director of employment of Washington Gas and Electric,” Haggerty said. “We got to talking about what I was going to do when I got discharged and he told me to come and see him.”
Haggerty spent the next 33 years of his life working for the company.
“I started in the field doing pipe work,” he said. “After 14 years I moved on to marketing and eventually moved to the Human Resources department. The training I received in the Air Force made it all possible.”
Familiar with the Myrtle Beach, S.C. area through golf and family vacations while working in Washington, Haggerty and his wife became permanent residents of North Myrtle Beach, S.C. ten days after he retired.
“I retired on December 31, 1996 and by January 10, 1997 we were living here,” he said. “We loved the area and thought it was perfect for retirement.”
Haggerty also became involved with American Legion Post 186 in Little River, including serving as post commander from 1999-2001.
“We have a great little post here which has grown quickly over the past few years,” he said. “We now have over 700 members.”
Post 186 sponsors attendees to Boys State and conducts fundraisers for Helping Hand charities. One of the most important services it provides, however, is to veterans. Haggerty and Post 186 have been supporters of the Veterans Welcome and Resource Center in Little River since it opened last year.
“We have a service officer who helps veterans get the benefits to which they are entitled,” Haggerty said. “A considerable number of medical conditions have been tied to in-country service in Vietnam in the past several years and we try to get that information out to those who may be eligible.”