Commissioned in the Army as a Combat Engineer Officer and later transitioning to duty as Foreign Area Officer, Colonel Richards has spent most of his military career operating and traveling throughout the Asia-Pacific region. As a combat engineer, he served in Hawaii and the Republic of Korea in heavy construction, mechanized and light engineer units, as well as on the staff of the U.S. Army Pacific. In 1995, he deployed his unit to Cambodia for three months to engage with the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces. As a Foreign Area Officer, his assignments include: Chief of the Liaison Affairs Section, the American Institute in Taiwan; Army Liaison Officer, U.S. Consulate General – Hong Kong; and as a military fellow attached to U.S. Embassy – Beijing. Other assignments include serving as Executive Officer of the Command Liaison Element in Baghdad, Iraq, and as Assistant Professor at the U.S. Army University at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This current assignment is his third posting in Hawaii.
Colonel Richards holds an M.A. in East Asia Studies from Stanford University, an M.S. in Environmental Engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla, and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame.
His military decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2), Meritorious Service Medal (2), Parachutist Badge and Ranger Tab. Colonel Richards maintains professional fluency in Chinese-Mandarin.