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Profiles from the Archives: Richard D. Hildebrand Sr.

Matthew M. Peek, Military Collection Archivist

Richard David Hildebrand Sr. was born on July 25, 1896, in Asheville, N.C., to David S. and Oleatta Stancil Hildebrand. Richard’s father was born in Germany and emigrated to the United States by 1880. By that year, David Hildebrand was working as a cabinet maker in Asheville. By 1910, David Hildebrand ran his own brick manufacturing business, and the Hildebrand family lived on a farm just outside of Asheville, N.C., in the Haw Creek area.

Richard Hildebrand was working as a clerk at the Asheville Supply and Foundry Company in Asheville, N.C., by 1917. He had been serving in a reserve military capacity prior to 1917. After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Richard Hildebrand was called up in the Officers’ Reserve Corps (ORC) on August 15, 1917, and assigned as a 2nd Lieutenant at Fort Oglethorpe in Georgia.

After his ORC training, Hildebrand was assigned to Camp Jackson, S.C., with the 323rd Infantry Regiment, 81st Division, U.S. Army. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant on March 20, 1918. He would be later stationed at Camp Sevier, S.C., before being sent to Camp Upton in New York prior to shipping out for Europe. Hildebrand served in Europe during WWI from July 30, 1918, through June 14, 1919. He reached the rank of captain on October 22, 1918. After returning to the United States, Hildebrand was honorably discharged on June 18, 1919, at Camp Stewart, Virginia.

While serving in France, Belgium, and Germany, Richard Hildebrand was a serving as a captain in Company E, 323rd Infantry, 81st Division. Hildebrand was a regimental intelligence officer with his infantry unit’s headquarters, responsible for keeping regimental intelligence reports and participating in enemy reconnaissance.

Hildebrand authored enemy surveillance reports that were sent to the Headquarters of the 81st Division. He also was responsible for acting upon surveillance requests or orders from the 81st Division leadership. Hildebrand created drawings of German trench lines and positions that were used for Allied attacks along the front lines in France and Belgium during WWI. He studied various German military tactics, enemy mapping practices, and other similar wartime intelligence subject matter. At some point, Hildebrand was transferred to Company F, 323rd Infantry, 81st Division, while stationed in Europe.

After the war, Richard Hildebrand returned home to live with his family in Asheville. By 1920, he was working as a salesman for the Asheville Supply and Foundry Company. Hildebrand married Dorothy Webb in Asheville, N.C., on March 3, 1923. By 1925, Richard Hildebrand was serving as the Vice-President of Asheville Supply and Foundry Company.

By 1936, Hildebrand had shifted careers to become a U.S. game management agent for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the U.S. Department of the Interior in Asheville, N.C. By 1940, the Hildebrands had relocated to Fort Worth, Texas, where Richard was working as a U.S. game management agent.

Richard Hildebrand Sr. and his son Richard D. Hildebrand Jr. both served in World War II. Richard Hildebrand Sr. served as a major in a U.S. Army Transportation Corps during WWII. Richard remained in Army service through at least 1950 while having returned to live in Asheville. By 1952, Richard Hildebrand—although a legal resident of N.C. still—had returned to work for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, working in Del Rio, Texas, as a U.S. game management agent. He came to retire in Asheville by the mid to late 1950s.

Richard D. Hildebrand Sr. died on December 7, 1966, in Asheville, N.C., and was buried in Riverside Cemetery in the same city.

To learn more about Richard Hildebrand’s WWI service, check out the Richard D. Hildebrand Papers (WWI 67) in the WWI Papers of the Military Collection at the State Archives of N.C. in Raleigh, N.C.

This blog post is part of the State Archives of N.C.’s World War I Social Media Project, an effort to bring original WWI archival materials to the public through the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources’ (NCDNCR) various social media platforms, in order to increase access to the items during the WWI centennial celebration by the state of N.C..

Between February 2017 and June 2019, the State Archives of N.C. will be posting blog articles, Facebook posts, and Twitter posts, featuring WWI archival materials which are posted on the exact 100th anniversary of their creation during the war. Blog posts will feature interpretations of the content of WWI documents, photographs, diary entries, posters, and other records, including scans of the original archival materials, held by the State Archives of N.C., and will be featured in NCDNCR’s WWI centennial blog.