WESTFIELD – Richard Alan Laiho (“Ric”) (1948-2024) passed away on February 1st, 2024. He was born in Ware, Massachusetts on March 7th, 1948. Ric attended local schools and graduated from Westfield Trade School in 1966.
He enlisted in the Marine Corps and left for basic training at Parris Island a few weeks after graduation. In February 1967, Ric deployed to Viet Nam as part of the 3rd Battalion, 9th Regiment, Kilo Company, 3rd Division. During his deployment, the 3rd Division was stationed a few miles south of the Demilitarized Zone (“DMZ”) in Quang Tri Province near the border of North Viet Nam. Throughout 1967, Ric’s unit participated in intense combat, including action on Hills 861, and 881 North & South in the run up to the 1968 siege of Khe Sanh. In May 1967, Ric was awarded the Purple Heart after sustaining significant wounds during Operation Hickory. Ric was treated in a field hospital for approximately four weeks and then returned to combat. He was awarded his second and third Purple Hearts on September 20th, and September 25th, 1967 after suffering wounds at Con Thien (“The Hill of Angels”). After combat duty in Viet Nam, Sgt. Laiho’s final duty station was at Kaneohe Marine Base on Oahu. In his off time, he learned to surf and visited other islands. He also attended concerts at the Honolulu Bowl where he saw The Cream, Led Zeppelin, Iron Butterfly, The Doors, and Jimi Hendrix opening for The Monkees.
Ric was Honorably Discharged from the Marine Corps effective January 1970. Upon his return to civilian life Ric became a father in January 1971 when his son Richard Patrick was born. Ric also resumed his enjoyment of hunting and fishing. Ric hunted extensively in Potter County, Pennsylvania. He especially loved traveling to Alaska where he hunted more than thirty times.
Ric was predeceased by his grandparents Gladys and Edwin Wirstrom and Frank and Aino Laiho, his parents Shirlie (Aldrich) and Reino Laiho, his beloved brother Randy Laiho, his nephew Michael Laiho, and his close friend and comrade Kermit Labelle with whom he served in Viet Nam.
He is survived by his family and friends who loved him, understood his wit, and appreciated him for the honorable, quiet, unassuming man that he was. He will be sorely missed. Rest easy, Marine.
Arrangements are under the direction of the Firtion Adams Funeral Service, 76 Broad Street, Westfield, MA 01085. www.firtionadams.com