Richard R. Alix was born in Pawtucket, Rhode Island and was a 1957 graduate of William E. Tolman High School. He was a top student and participated in baseball and football. Dick entered the University of Rhode Island on a football scholarship in September 1957. He played football for two years until a knee injury cut short a promising career. He became a member of Theta Chi Fraternity and participated in the four-year Army ROTC program. He received a degree in Industrial Management and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Quartermaster Corps in 1961.
As a Regular Army Officer, Dick served a combat arms detail in the Armor branch reporting to Fort Knox, Kentucky to attend the Armor Officer Basic Course. Lieutenant Alix was then assigned to the Armor Desert Training Center at Fort Irwin, California, as a tank platoon leader with the 2nd Battalion, 77th Armor. Following his tour at Fort Irwin, Lieutenant Alix was assigned to the 15th Supply and Transport Battalion in Munsani, Korea. After his tour in Korea, Captain Alix was assigned to the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he served as Headquarters Company Commander in the Division Support Command.
Major Alix deployed to Vietnam in 1968 and was assigned to the Military Assistance Command Advisory Team 118 in Go Vap Province. Major Alix was a “one-man” advisory team. While his primary duty was advisor to the Vietnamese petroleum operation throughout all of South Vietnam, he spent the majority of his time fighting the war against the Viet Cong who were intent on destroying the petroleum storage compound in Go Vap.
On 18 February 1968, after attending a meeting in Saigon, Major Alix was awaken at 1:30 AM by an explosion outside his building. Rushing out to the sandbagged position where a single U.S. military police guard armed with his M16 rifle and a radio was located, Major Alix immediately took charge and called military police headquarters for assistance. He was informed the entire city was under attack, and he was directed to “do the best you can with what you got.” Major Alix and the MP guard stood their ground at the sandbagged position and managed to return fire at a small group of Viet Cong at the entrance of the alley.
This fierce firefight lasted throughout the rest of the night until sunrise. Nine Viet Cong lay dead at the end of the alley by the hotel. Major Alix drove to the Ordnance Depot and obtained six M60 machine guns and returned to his compound in Go Vap. Throughout the trip back, his vehicle took enemy gun fire; and he ran into two Viet Cong roadblocks. He arrived with the six machine guns at his compound which were immediately set in position. That night, the Viet Cong attacked the compound and suffered 49 casualties, mainly due to the effectiveness of the newly acquired M60 machine guns. Due to his heroism, the two hundred families on the compound were safe.
During another night attack, the jet fuel pipeline was damaged. The next morning, Major Alix led a team of Vietnamese soldiers to repair the damaged pipeline. Major Alix was wounded during this engagement. He made his way back to the vehicle where his driver was standing on the seat returning gunfire into the jungle area. His driver was then hit by enemy gunfire, and Major Alix moved him back into a covered position out of sight of the enemy sniper. After several minutes, Major Alix eliminated the Viet Cong sniper. For his Heroic Action under fire, Major Alix was awarded the Purple Heart and the Vietnamese Distinguished Service and Gallantry Medal.
On 5 October 1968, Major Alix was awarded the Bronze Star Medal which stated in part: “His coolness under fire and competent leadership further enhanced his relationship with his soldiers. His sound judgement, aggressive attitude, and professional knowledge in assisting his counterparts have contributed largely to the success of the United States’ advisory effort in the Republic of Vietnam.”
As a Major and Lieutenant Colonel, Alix subsequently served in various senior-level staff and Command positions. He served as Battalion Commander, 25th Main Support Battalion and G4 (Logistics) 25th Infantry Division. Upon returning to the United States, Colonel Alix was assigned as the Director of Acquisition, Defense Personal Support Center, Philadelphia, PA. Colonel Alix directed and was responsible for procurement, acquisition and contract administration of contracts for over $4.9 billion annually for material and equipment.
Colonel Alix retired from the Army on 1 December 1983. His awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Purple Heart, Army Commendation Medal and the Republic of Vietnam Service & Gallantry Medal.
Colonel Richard Alix, U.S. Army, Retired, returned to government service as Senior Procurement Analyst and Advisor to the Director of Acquisition Management, Office of the Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rockville, Maryland. Following this position, Colonel Alix accepted a position as Executive Vice President at the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command, Research & Development Center in Warren, Michigan.
After over 30 years of military and government civilian service with the U.S. Army, Colonel Richard Alix concluded his federal service in 1998. His outstanding leadership, courage and devotion to duty are in the highest traditions of the United States Army and the University of Rhode Island. Colonel Richard Alix is a long-standing supporter of the University of Rhode Island. Colonel Alix has spent his entire life serving his country in both peace and war. Dick and his wife Lois reside in Goodyear, Arizona.
Class of 1961