Detective Claude D. Richards
Shield 244
Bomb Squad

If ever a man was to the bomb squad born, it was Detective Claude Richards of the New York Police Department. Fearless, meticulous and disciplined nearly to a fault, Detective Richards, 46, the bomb squad's intelligence coordinator, spent his off-duty hours working, working out and planning his next workday. When he took some time off, it was to defuse land mines in Bosnia with a United Nations peacekeeping force.

All the way from boyhood, Dan, as Detective Richards was known, "always wanted to charge up to the front," said his brother, Jim, "just to prove himself." He was in the Rangers in the Army, and on the bomb squad his command presence allowed him to give orders to colleagues who far outranked him as he oversaw security logistics for events ranging from presidential visits to the United States Tennis Open.

Detective Richards, who lived in Chelsea, was a complicated man. True, he could yell at a co-worker who borrowed his stapler and put it back in the wrong place, but he also didn't think twice before taking his shoes off on the street and giving them to a vagabond, Jim Richards said.

Detective Richards's work ethic left him little time or space for relationships, his brother said, but added, "He was so devoted to his work I don't think he had a problem with it."
- The New York Times 12/15/2001

Working on the New York City Police Department's Bomb Squad can be nerve-racking, to say the least. But there was something about Det. Claude Richards, known to his friends as Dan, that made his colleagues feel safe.

"It's a great comfort to be working with someone you can trust," said Det. Daniel McNally, a friend and colleague of Richards' since their first day of police academy in 1983. "Danny was the kind of guy that you'd want to introduce your loved ones to, to reassure them."

Richards, 46, was with McNally, searching for survivors in the World Trade Center's Building Six, when Tower One collapsed, killing him and two other officers, and injuring McNally. The other officers killed were Officer John Dallara and Sgt. Michael Curtin, both of Emergency Services. Richards' remains have not been recovered.

"It would sound very cliche to say he died as he lived, helping people," said McNally. "The guy was a New York City detective who was on the bomb squad for 15 years. He had placed his life in harm's way many, many times. This is just another time that tempted fate."

Richards, who was unmarried and had no children, was utterly devoted to his job, said his older brother Jim Richards, 47, who lives in the Town of Hempstead.

"He put 100 percent into it, to the point where it took over any personal life that he might have had," he said. "I think this is what he wanted to do. I don't think he was ever sorry about not having a family."

Richards grew up in Bethpage, the sixth of seven children. His older brother Bill, a Vietnam War veteran who had lost both his legs, died just three weeks before the World Trade Center attack.

Richards himself also served in the Army, enlisting at 22 and serving as an Army Airborne Ranger and as a member of the elite "Presidential Honor Guard" in Washington. After he left the Army, he earned a bachelor's degree at New York University and joined the police department in 1983.

His sister, Debbie Popadiuk, 44, of Tennessee, remembers Richards as a kind and protective older brother.

"He was just so good to me," she said, adding, "He just wanted to help people."

For example, she said, "If he saw someone who needed a coat, or shoes or something, he would just give it to them. That's the way he was."

In 1996, Richards spent a year helping people thousands of miles away -- on an assignment few would volunteer for. He was part of a United Nations international police force in Bosnia, where he disarmed land mines and other bombs.

While abroad, he indulged his love of travel, using his time off to visit countries across Europe. A martial arts enthusiast, Richards practiced religiously to hone his skills.

Eventually, it was his quiet integrity that earned him the trust and admiration of his fellow bomb squad members.

"Dan Richards was the kind of man who knew the difference between right and wrong, and he knew the difference between difficult and easy, but he would never let something difficult stand between him and doing something right," said McNally. "He was a man who was comfortable in his own skin."

- New York Newsday Victim Database 10/11/2001

Detective Claude D. Richards, 46, was appointed to the NYPD on January 3, 1983, and began his career on patrol in Neighborhood Stabilization Unit 14. Known as "Dan", he was a veteran of the United States Army where he was an Airborne Ranger, as well as a member of the elite Presidential Honor Guard. Prior to being assigned to the Bomb Squad in October 1997, he served in the 6 Precinct and the Arson and Explosion Squad. He was promoted to detective in July 1989, and elevated to second grade detective in December 2000. In 1993, he assisted in the rescue efforts at the World Trade Center Bombing. A graduate of the New York University, Det. Richards also served as a volunteer with the International Police Task Force in Bosnia for one year. His job was to offer the United Sates assistance in disarming land mines throughout the country. He is survived by his sisters Debbie, Helen and Linda; brothers Jim and Tom
- SPRING 3100, Commemorative Issue

(patch created by a volunteer for the
CubScout Pack 233 Memorial American Flag Quilt)

(patch from Barnum Woods Elementary School Quilt)