Researching, collecting, preserving and publishing the history of the Haines Family settlers and others in the area of what is now known as northern Greene County, Town of Hunter, Catskill Mountains, New York, commonly referred to as the mountaintop.
Lieutenant Richard Alexander Haines, US Naval Reserve
Richard Alexander Haines, born in Haines Falls, NY on April 28, 1903, was commissioned a Lieutenant in the Naval Reserve in July 1941. During WWII, while serving aboard the heavy cruiser NEW ORLEANS, the ship suffered a devastating torpedo strike in the Battle of Tassafaronga on November 30, 1942. Making the ultimate sacrifice, Lieutenant Haines remained at his station to assist in controlling the damage, until overcome by asphyxiating gas generated by the explosion. In the true tradition of the Navy, he gave his life to save his shipmates and was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his heroism. On August 26, 1943, a destroyer escort was launched and commissioned the USS Haines (DE-792) to honor Lieutenant Haines' memory. The USS Haines was subsequently awarded one battle star during WWII. On December 15, 1944, the USS Haines was converted to a high-speed transport and reclassified as APD-84. On April 29, 1946, the USS Haines was decommissioned, stricken June 1, 1960 and sold May 3, 1961.
The plaque shown below was dedicated to Lt. Haines and placed on the Veteran's Memorial at the Mountain Top Historical Society in Haines Falls, New York on July 12, 2008. Many family members and acquaintances were in attendance to honor the bravery and memory of Lt. Haines. American Legion Bunt-Brewer Post 165 presented the Color Guard in tribute to his commitment and sacrifice. This plaque is now on display in the vestibule of the Town of Hunter Townhouse.
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Lt. Haines Receives Greene County’s Honoring Our Veterans Award (The following article and photos were published in the Windham Journal, May 20, 2010.)
Veterans in Greene County celebrated Armed Forces Day Saturday with a ceremony at the Greene County Office Building to remember those who fell in battle in air, on land and at sea. Navy Lt. Richard Alexander Haines, of Haines Falls, who lost his life during the night of Nov. 30-Dec. 1, 1942 in the Battle of Tassafaronga, was singled out from the more than 155 men and women from Greene County who have been killed in conflicts since that war as the deceased veteran honored during Saturday’s event. Haines was aboard the Navy heavy cruiser USS New Orleans in the Pacific Ocean when it was struck by a torpedo, according to his nephew Richard A. Haines Showers, who attended the ceremony with his sister Sara-Jane Chrispell, brother Peter, wife Linda and son Thomas. The ship’s bow broke off, Showers said, and bounced twice off different parts of the ship’s body and propeller, creating more holes. Showers said his uncle was a member of the damage control crew and helped several other seamen escape the ship. But noxious gases claimed Haines’ life, Showers said. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Navy’s highest honor, the Navy Cross. Haines’ children, Richard A. Haines Jr., Barbara and Mary Jane, lived with their mother, Mary, in California at the time of his death. Haines is buried in California. Showers said his uncle was originally interred on the island of Tulagi, where the New Orleans was repaired and fitted with a wooden bow following the attack. Sara-Jane Crispell said the crew hid the cruiser with palm fronds before repairs were made. Showers said Haines’ brother Jack traveled to the island and collected pieces of white coral from the beach for his mother, who was still living in a house on North Lake Road, in Haines Falls. “They still sit on a desk, in the house, two rooms away from where he was born,” Showers said of the coral. In December 1943, the destroyer escort USS Haines, named for the fallen lieutenant, was commissioned in Texas. Haines was born on April 28, 1903, attended the Tenessee Military Institute and the Naval Academy and served in the Coast Guard before being commissioned Lieutenant in the Naval Reserve in July of 1941, Amanda Boomhower, a representative of U.S. Rep. Scott Murphy, D-Glens Falls, read from a biography of Haines. She presented the Haines family with a flag that once flew over the Capitol in Washington, D.C. as a bagpiper played “Amazing Grace,” after which a salute was fired and “Taps” was played. State Assemblyman Pete Lopez, R,C,I-Schoharie, told the audience about the many patriotic events scheduled Saturday across his assembly district to illustrate that the spirit respect for sacrifice is alive in New York. “There are people who are engaged, who understand the importance of citizenship, who understand that the sacrifices made by these veterans were not in vain,” he said. Chairman of the Greene County Legislature Wayne Speenburg, R-Coxsackie, along with legislators Larry Gardner, D-Hunter, Chris Pfister, D-Athens, and Joseph Izzo, R-Catskill presented the Haines family with a proclamation. Jack Van Loan, director of the County Veteran’s Service Agency, and Dr. Kathleen Farrell, superintendent of the Catskill Central School District, also addressed the crowd. American Legions from Cairo, Catskill, Greenville, Prattsville and Tannersville, the Veterans of Foreign Wars of Windham and the Mountaintop Marine Corps League were among the veterans groups who participated in the event; Cairo Boy Scout Troop 43 partook, as well. Rev. Richard Snowden, of the First Baptist Church in Catskill gave an invocation and a benediction.
Click on the photos below to enlarge them and view information.
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Lt. Richard A. Haines Memorial Highway
On October 29, 2010, highway signs were erected at both ends of North Lake Road, Haines Falls, NY, honoring the bravery, ultimate sacrifice and memory of Lt. Richard A. Haines. In addition, a historical sign was erected at the High View House on North Lake Road, where Lt. Haines was born and raised. This achievement is the realization of a proposal by the late Jim Miller and a collaborative effort by the Town of Hunter, Greene County Legislature, Greene County Highway Department, Lt. Haines' relatives and descendents, and the Haines Family Association.
Click on the photos below to see enlarged views.
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The High View House in 2013. Much restoration work has been done by Lt. Haines' family members. Photo courtesy of Dick and Linda Showers.