He was born in Taichow, Kaiangsu, China, on March 25, 1929 to missionary parents. Richardson graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1951 and was commissioned in the Infantry. His initial assignment was with the 24th Infantry Division on occupation duty in Japan.
He was deployed to the Korea in 1953 with the 7th Infantry Division, after the end of the Korean War. He subsequently served in various staff positions before taking command of the 3rd Battalion, 39th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division in 1966. He deployed with his battalion to Vietnam, and later was assigned as the Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3, of the 9th Infantry Division. He returned to Vietnam in June 1971 as the commander of the 198th Infantry Brigade, Americal Division, and also served as commander of the 193rd Infantry Brigade in the Panama Canal Zone from December 1974 to June 1977. He followed his second brigade command as the Director of Requirements on the Army Staff from 1977 to 1979.
Richardson served as Commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth from 1979 to 1981. He was the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans from 1981 to 1983, and in 1983, he became commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, retiring from this position in 1986.
His education includes the Canadian Army Staff College, the Armed Forces Staff College, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, and a masters degree from the George Washington University. His awards and decorations include the Army Distinguished Service Medal, the Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Legion of Merit with two Oak Leaf Clusters, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Bronze Star with "V" device and three Oak Leaf Clusters, the Purple Heart, the Combat Infantryman Badge, and the Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit, Tong II Medal.
After retirement, he became Executive Vice President, Army Programs at Burdeshaw Associates, Ltd., a position he filled until 1995. He serves on the Board of Advisors of the National Infantry Foundation. He is a Senior Associate and on the Board of Directors of O'Connell and Associates, a defense consulting firm. In February 2007 he was named to the Board of Trustees of the Command and General Staff College Foundation.