Richard Valentine was born on January 19, 1942, in Coolidge, Kansas. He enlisted in the U.S. Army on February 8, 1960, and completed basic training at Fort Carson, Colorado, in April 1960. Pvt Valentine attended Advanced Individual Training as an Infantryman at Fort Benning, Georgia, from April to June 1960, and then served with the 1st Airborne Battle Group of the 501st Infantry Regiment at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, from June 1960 to November 1964. His next assignment was with Battery C, 3rd Battalion of the 319th Field Artillery Regiment in South Vietnam from November 1964 to May 1966, followed by service with Battery B, 2nd Battalion of the 321st Field Artillery Regiment at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, from June to November 1966. Sgt Valentine served as a Heavy and then Light Weapons Leader with the 5th Special Forces Group in South Vietnam from November 1966 to December 1967, and then as a Light Weapons Instructor with the U.S. Army Special Forces Training Group at Fort Bragg from December 1967 to November 1969. His next assignment was as a Light Weapons Leader with Company B, 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Bragg from November 1969 to September 1972, and during this time he served on the Security Element of the Greenleaf Support Group during the Son Tay Raid, a clandestine mission to rescue American Prisoners of War held in North Vietnam on November 21, 1970. Sgt Valentine attended Spanish Language training with the Defense Language Institute at Monterey, California, from October 1972 to February 1973, and then served as Assistant Intelligence Sergeant, Light Weapons Leader, and then as Operations Sergeant with Company B, 3rd Battalion of the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Gulick, Panama, from March 1973 to May 1976. His next assignment was as First Sergeant of 2nd Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment at Fort Campbell from June 1976 to August 1977, followed by service as Operations Sergeant of Company A, 3rd Battalion of the 7th Special Forces Group at Fort Gulick, Panama, from September 1977 to August 1979. MSG Valentine was a patient at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., from August 1979 until he was medically retired from the Army on September 11, 1979. Richard Valentine died on May 15, 1986.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For gallantry in action on 21 November 1970 as a member of an all-volunteer joint U.S. Army and Air Force raiding force in the Joint Chiefs of Staff-directed heliborne assault mission to rescue United States military personnel held as prisoners of war at Son Tay prison in North Vietnam. This valiant effort was motivated by deep compassion for his imprisoned fellow men-at-arms, and by a strong sense of military duty and national pride. As a member of the initial assault force, Sergeant Valentine, with complete disregard for his personal safety, moved from building to building, clearing each and thus eliminating a dangerous threat to the successful accomplishment of the mission. He again exposed himself to automatic weapons fire to secure the southern portion of the landing zone. His courage and extreme coolness under fire contributed directly to the overall success of the Operation. Sergeant Valentine's extraordinary heroism against an armed hostile force, and extreme devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit on himself and the United States Army.