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U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Ricardo Alfonso daSilva, SMSgt., USAF (Retired)
October 09, 1945 – November 16, 2019
Funeral Mass: March 20, 2020 at 12:45 PM in the Memorial Chapel on Fort Myer, with honors to follow at the graveside in Arlington National Cemetery
Ricardo Alfonso daSilva was born October 9, 1945 in Manila, Philippines. Baptized and Confirmed Roman Catholic. He is the son of Carlos E. daSilva – an architect, and Mary Betts – a teacher. He had Enrique – an elder brother, and Miren – a younger sister, as siblings.
Ricardo was the middle child. Growing up, he enjoyed sports such as basketball, soccer and baseball. He deeply loved music throughout his life and even played drums for a band – “The Phantoms” that had popular local demand during his youth.
He studied under the De La Salle Christian Brothers and was a sophomore in college when he decided to enlist in the United States military during the Vietnam War period in 1968. He left the Philippines for boot camp in America and proudly served for 26 years in the United States Air Force as a Flight Engineer until he retired honorably at the rank of Senior Master Sergeant in 1994.
During his service with the Air Force, Ricardo and his family were stationed on assignments on Luke AFB (Arizona), Ramstein AFB (Germany), Hickam AFB (Hawaii) Clark AFB (Philippines) and finally Andrews AFB (Maryland). It was in this last assignment where Ricardo and family finally decided to settle down and purchase their new home in Upper Marlboro, MD.
Ricardo’s most memorable assignments took place while serving with the 31st ARRS, piloting their beloved Sikorsky HH-3E “Jolly Green Giant” helicopters, they were tasked with the important mission of bringing home the POWs to Clark from Hanoi. Following this assignment was his time with the 1st Helicopter Squadron, whose primary mission is to prepare to evacuate high-ranking personnel from the Capital area in the event of an emergency and to support D.C. area airlift of high-ranking Executive Branch dignitaries, military leaders and other VIPs. While serving with these squadrons, Ricardo highly cherished the camaraderie and brotherhood of his fellow airmen. Serving alongside them brought him great direction and purpose. His service to country is what guided and defined him.
Awards received during Ricardo’s active military service include: Meritorious Service Medal, AF Commendation Medal, Distinguished Presidential Unit Citation, AF Outstanding Unit Award with Valor, Combat Readiness Medal, AF Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal: Bronze Star, Vietnam Service Medal: Bronze Star, AF Overseas Short Tour Ribbon, AF Overseas Long Tour Ribbon, AF Longevity Service Award Ribbon, NCO PME Grad Ribbon, Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon, AF Training Ribbon, Vietnam Gallantry Cross, and the Vietnam Campaign Medal.
Following retirement from active duty, Ricardo transitioned into civilian life, initially working in security roles for various government establishments until he accepted a position with the Department of Energy in a highly sensitive role. He remained in this occupation until 2007 when he unfortunately experienced a stroke while at work that permanently paralyzed the entire right side of his body. From this point, Ricardo was rendered disabled and retired from work as a result. After the initial recovery period concluded where he stayed at a nursing home, Ricardo’s health did improve somewhat with the return of his speech and a limited ability to stand up and walk for short periods. Shortly after, he was then able to relocate to an assisted living facility in Laurel until he was later moved from Maryland to live in Pennsylvania closer to his son. Ricardo lived comfortably for several years there until his health began to further decline. After mounting complications and experiencing several setbacks, Ricardo daSilva finally succumbed to the challenges of his health on November 16, 2019 at approximately 6:00 AM.
Ricardo is survived by his ex-wife, Milagros daSilva – the mother of his 3 children in order: Jean-Paul, Michael and Pia daSilva. It was Ricardo’s advanced request that he be buried at Arlington National Cemetery to be amongst his brothers in arms. A funeral Mass will be held on March 20, 2020 at 12:45 PM in the Memorial Chapel on Fort Myer, with honors to follow at the graveside.
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