Memorial Day

Today is the day that was established to honor those who died while serving our country. Can you identify your ancestors or cousins whom we would honor today? Although I am aware of some of my cousins, I cannot readily name them.

However, my genealogy program is a database. Thus, I should be able to use the program and create a list. Unfortunately, searching for this type of information in a database requires that data be entered accurately. And I can attest to the fact incomplete or missing data in my file will impact my ability to pull this information.

Knowing that my mom has a couple of 2nd cousins who died during World War II, I started trying to create a list of those who died during that war. My first step was to create a group. This feature is located under the command palette, whose icon is located in the upper right corner of RootsMagic 8.

Opening the list of commands, I scroll down to GROUPS. Since I want to create a group, I’m looking for the command to ‘Add, delete or modify the list of gorups’.

Clicking that choice opens the GROUPS window. This window shows my existing groups and has buttons to add (new), edit, delete or rename a group.

To create my group, I click on the NEW button. A window opens prompting me to enter a name for this group. For this example, I’m going to name my group ‘WWII Deaths’.

That opens a window titled RootsMagic Explorer that shows a list of everyone in my file with boxes for checkmarks to indicate group membership. Since I’m creating this group from scratch, I want to use the MARK button.

Clicking the MARK button opens a pull-down menu showing my choices. Since I’m wanting to create a list based on the death date and place, I want to use the ‘By Data Fields’ choice.

This opens a window that allows me to select data fields and create a ‘sentence’ defining my search. Sometimes figuring out this ‘sentence’ is trial and error. This is also where incomplete data can impact the results. For my first ‘trial’, I’m going to search for those people with a military fact who died between 7 Dec 1941 and 2 Sept 1945. I am using 7 Dec 1941 as my start date since that is the date in which the United States was attacked.

When I click the OK button, the software searches my file and finds 9 people that have a military fact who died during the specified time period.

To finish creating the group, I have to click on the OK button and then click on the SELECT button in the lower right corner of the window. If I forget to click SELECT, my group is not created. That closes the selection window and returns me to the group window, where I have to again click OK to close the window.

The easiest way to review my group is to use the INDEX on the side of the PEOPLE screen. The default for the Index is to SHOW EVERYONE.

When I click on the ‘Show Everyone’ box, a menu opens showing the groups I have created.

If I scroll down the list, I can locate my newly created WWII DEATHS group.

Selecting the WWII DEATHS group causes the index to display the members of this group.

Looking at that list, I have several people born before 1900 who were included on the list. I have two options to ‘clean up’ this list. One option is to look at each person in question, evaluate their information and then remove them from the list if they don’t meet my criteria.

For example, Lloyd William Barnes is on my list with a death date of 14 Dec 1941. He also has a military fact, but it is dated 1918.

Below his parents is the GROUP information. When I click on the word GROUPS, it opens a list of all of my groups on the right side of the person window.

Scrolling down, I can locate the WWII Deaths group and remove the check mark by that group and then close the person window. That removes him from the list of people in the group under the index.

I can continue working my way thru the group one person at a time, or I could edit my group and add a statement to help narrow the selection. In this case, I might add a statement requiring the birth date to be after 1900. To do this, I follow the same procedure used to open the GROUPS menu. Then I scroll down to locate my group, WWI Deaths.

This time, I want to click on the EDIT button. This opens the RootsMagic Explorer window where I can mark/unmark members in this group. Since I’m editing an existing group, I usually check UNMARK and select prior to going back in and editing my selection. This makes sure that those I don’t want in the group are removed. Once I’m back in the RootsMagic Explorer window, I select MARK and pick BY DATA FIELDs as before. My previous ‘sentence’ is still there. I only need to ADD to it. Thus, I’m gong to add a 4th line for the Birth Date is after 31 Dec 1899.

Clicking OK causes the program to search using my new criteria. Five people are now marked. This is where I need to remember to click SELECT after clicking the OK button.

Working my way thru these 5 people, I can verify that I have information entered for each of them about their death during World War II.

Using this process, I created groups for the Korean War, World War II, World War I and the Civil War.

Korean War Deaths

  • John Frederick Christy

World War II Deaths

World War I Deaths

  • None

Civil War Deaths

  • John Nelson Ralston
  • John Wesley Roberts

While creating these groups is the easiest way I know of to identify these cousins deserving to be honored this Memorial Day. However, this method is not perfect. (Remember, it depends on the completeness and accuracy of my data.) Since I remembered writing about a service member who died when his plane crashed, I expected him to be on my list. And, he is NOT.

My blog post, Plane Down, identifies him as 2nd Lieutenant Gene Marion Ashmore.

Checking what information I have for Gene Marion Ashmore, I can verify that he has a military fact. However, his death date is outside of the dates I used for my search. It is a few days AFTER the official end of World War II. Thus, the computer did not add his name to my group of WWII Deaths.

Since I would like to be able to include him in my list of WWII veterans to be honored on Memorial Day, I can manually add him to the list. If I click on GROUPS (below his parents) and then scroll down my list of groups, I can locate the ‘WWII Deaths’ group.

When I return to the index and select the WWI Deaths group, I can verify that he has been added.

As my database grows, I will either need to remember to update these lists as I identify a veteran or use the GROUPS menu to edit the group.

How about you? Can you identify people in your tree to be honored on Memorial Day?

Chief Master Sergeant

Have you ever celebrated when you find an obituary that details a military career? Well, I’m celebrating today! As I’m researching cousins, I’ve finally found an obituary that provides quite a few details about the military career of my second cousin twice removed, Everett Wayne Stoops.

Obituaries
Wayne Stoops

Feb. 19, 1919 — July 7, 2006
Retired Chief Master Sgt. Everett Wayne Stoops, U.S. Air Force, of Albany died Friday, July 7, after a valiant fight against complications of heart and lung disease. He was 87.
Born in Hamilton County, Ind., to Ernest and Edith (Christy) Stoops, he was one of eight children.
Graduating from high school at 16, he worked in the family grocery store. Enlisting in the Army Air Corps in 1940, he attended aircraft maintenance schools and participated in submarine patrol missions until crashing in a B-26 aircraft on Dec. 18, 1941. He served 34 months in Australia, New Guinea, Dutch Ne Guinea and Owi Island, maintaining and, in some cases, rebuilding planes before returning to the United States. He then married Wilma Ridenour of Indiana, whom he had met on a blind date before he went overseas and ask to marry him on their third date. He left the service in 1945 as a master sergeant, but after three years re-enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, where he remained for 30 years of active service.
He was stationed all over the world from England to Labrador, Canada, to Vietnam and the Philippines, and traveled to Scotland, Bermuda, Guam, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Greenland and points in between. As often as possible, his family and their dogs accompanied him.
He was one of the first men to attain the rank of chief master sergeant, the highest a non-commissioned office can hold. Upon retirement, the family moved to Albany, where Wayne worked as parts manager for Dorsey Bus Company and then for J and J Electric until his final retirement in 1984. He continued to work part time until 1998.
He enjoyed camping neighborhood and family get-togethers, and taking his friends flying. He was a voracious reader, enjoying mysteries, westerns, war novels, nonfiction and the occasional Danielle Steel. An avid dog lover, he also discovered the joy of being owned by cats during the last 30 years of his life.
He was preceded in death by his parents, stepmother Lydia and siblings. Survivors include Wilma, his wife of 61 years; his daughter, Elizabeth “Libby” Stoops, her husband, Vernon Smith, and Grandson Connor Stoops-Smith; niece Nancy Gressler of Springfield; several nieces and nephews east of the Rockies; and many many friends.
Wayne will be remembered as a quiet man who valued his family and friends, loved animals, and was always available to lend a hand. He is missed.
A celebration of life will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 5, at the American Legion, 1215 Pacific Blvd. S.E. Albany.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Safe-Haven Humane Society or Heartland Humane Society.

“Obituaries,” Corvallis Gazette-Times (Corvallis, Oregon), 21 July 2006, page 4; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 31 December 2021).

Although I haven’t found another source to corroborate the airplane crash, I have been able to find items in the local Indiana newspapers that provide details about where Wayne Stoops was stationed during his military career.

Everett  Wayne Stoops1 was born on 19 Feb 1919 in Clarksville, Indiana.15 He was the child of Edith Ethel Christy and Ernest Evert Stoops.1,67 He lived in Wayne Township, Hamilton, Indiana, United States in 1920.8 Everett lived in Owen Township, Clinton County, Indiana in 1930.9 He enlisted in the Army Air Corps on 5 Jan 1940.4,7,10 He served in the military in May 1940 in Dayton, Montgomery, Ohio, United States.1112 Everett served in the military in Staten Island, New York.12 He served in the military in Dec 1942 at Lincoln Air Base in Lincoln, Lancaster, Nebraska, United States.13 He served in the military in Jun 1944 at Lowry Field in Denver, Colorado, United States.14 Everett served in the military in Greensboro, Guilford, North Carolina.14 He was discharged from the military on 20 Sep 1945 at Camp Atterbury.4,7,12 He registered for the military draft  on 26 Sep 1945 in Frankfort, Clinton, Indiana, United States.5 Everett enlisted in the Air Force on 24 Dec 1948.4,7 He served in the military witha a rank of Technical Sergeant in 1951 in Merced, California, United States.15 He lived in Salina, Saline, Kansas, United States in 1953.16 Everett served in the military in 1963 in Goose Bay, Alaska.1718 He was discharged from the military on 30 Jun 1973.4 He lived in Albany, Linn, Oregon, United States in 1988.67 Everett lived in Eugene, Lane, Oregon, United States in 1999.19 He lived in Albany, Linn, Oregon, United States in 2002.20 He died on 7 Jul 2006 at the age of 87.14,7 The funeral of Everett was held on 2 Aug 2006 in Albany, Linn, Oregon, United States.7

ENDNOTES:

1. Social Security Administration, “Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007,” database on-line, Ancestry, Ancestry.com (https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/60901/ : viewed online 21 November 2020), Everett Wayne Stoops.

2. Oregon, Death Index 1898-2008, Everett Wayne Stoops, 7 July 2006; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 31 December 2021).

3. Social Security Administration, “U.S. Social Security Death Index,” database, Ancestry, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 31 December 2021), Everett W Stoops, 307-16-3375, before 1951.

4. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, “U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs BIRLS Death File, 1850-2010,” database, Ancestry, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : viewed online 31 December 2021), Everett W Stoops.

5. “U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947,” database, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 31 December 2021), Everett W. Stoops.

6. “Ernest Stoops,” The Kokomo Tribune (Kokomo, Indiana), 2 October 1988, page 6; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 21 November 2020).

7. “Obituaries,” Corvallis Gazette-Times (Corvallis, Oregon), 21 July 2006, page 4; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 31 December 2021).

8. 1920 U.S. Census, Hamilton County, Indiana, population schedule, Wayne Township, Hamilton County, Indiana, ED 114, Sheet 5A Image 9 of 11, family 109, Earnest Stoops; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 21 November 2020); NARA microfilm publication T625

9. 1930 U.S. Census, Clinton County, Indiana, population schedule, Owen Township, Clinton County, Indiana, enumeration district (ED) ED 12-17, Sheet 1B, family 19, Ernest Stoops; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 22 November 2020); NARA microfilm publication T626.

10. “Local News,” The Tipton Daily Tribune (Tipton, IN), 11 July 1942, page 5; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 31 December 2021).

11. “Local News,” The Tipton Daily Tribune (Tipton, IN), 30 May 1940, page 4; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 31 December 2021).

12. “Burlington,” The Kokomo Tribune (Kokomo, Indiana), 20 September 1945, page 12; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 31 December 2021).

13. Palladium-Item (Richmond, IN), ; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : accessed ).

14. “Local News,” Palladium-Item (Richmond, IN), 21 July 1944, page 9; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 31 December 2021).

15. “Local News,” The Tipton Daily Tribune (Tipton, IN), 30 May 1951, page 5; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 31 December 2021).

16. “Local News,” The Kokomo Tribune (Kokomo, Indiana), 1 January 1953, page 17; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 31 December 2021).

17. Find a Grave, database and images, Find a Grave (www.findagrave.com : viewed online 30 December 2021), memorial for Sylvester Eugene Stoops (1913-1963), Find a Grave Memorial no. #8528622, created by Judy, citing Geetingsville Cemetery, Geetingsville, Clinton County, Indiana; accompanying photograph by Judy, Sylvester Eugene Stoops.

18. “Christy Family Has 17th Reunion,” The Tipton Daily Tribune (Tipton, IN), 17 August 1963, page 3; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 31 December 2021).

19. “Lois E Click, 81,” Journal and Courier (Lafayette, Indiana), 30 April 1999, page 22; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 22 November 2020).

20. “Juanita Eleanor Zook,” Journal and Courier (Lafayette, Indiana), 21 October 2002, page 18; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 31 December 2021).

Redeployment

Can you imagine spending the winter in the snow in Belgium during the winter of 1944-1945? Then can you imagine that when the war ended in Europe, you weren’t going home, but going to the Pacific theater instead?

Well, that was the case for many – but not all of the soldiers who survived the Battle of the Bulge. The Army established a point system to determine who got to go home versus who was sent to the Pacific. This process was discussed in an article in The Birmingham News.

The Birmingham News (Birmingham, Alabama)
22 Aug 1945
page 1

Army Bans Overseas Shipment for Enlisted Men with 75 Points
Washington, Aug. 22 (AP) The Army is banning overseas shipment of enlisted men with 75 or more discharge points. At the same time, it was learned that the War Department soon will direct all branches of the Army to cut below 37 the age limit for overseas duty.
At present, the ground forces are screening out of divisions slated for Japanese occupation duties all men 37 or older. The ground forces embrace all troops, including the infantry, except those in the service of supply or air forces.
The later two now are weeding out of redeployment units all men 38 or older.
Just how far the age limit may be reduced has not been determined. One problem is that men in the service forces, chiefly supply troops, are older on the average than those in the ground and air forces.
Enlisted men now can get out of the Army upon request if they are 38 or have a point discharge score of 85, based on a rating system that grants credit for combat, service and dependency.
The announcement that men with 75 or more points are not being sent overseas indicates that the discharge score may be reduced to that figure. However, this may be done in two separate cuts, because the Army says the score must be geared to available shipping.
The department said the 95th and 85th Divisions, the first two redeployed from Europe for service in the Pacific, were screened to eliminate all men with 75 or more points. The 37-year age limit also was used in screening the 95th, but not the 86th, the department reported, because there was not sufficient time to make the necessary personnel changes after the discharge age was lowered from 40 to 38. The age limit in the 86th was 38.
Some men in both the 95th and 8th Divisions have protested against being sent to Japan after having served in Europe. The 95th is now at Camp Shelby, Miss., and the 86th is on the West Coast awaiting shipment to Japan.

The Wikipedia article on the Demobilization of United States armed forces after WWII explains how the points were accumulated.

Soldiers were given one point for each month of military service and one additional point was given for each month of overseas service. Each battle star or decoration earned a soldier 5 points. Soldiers were awarded 12 points per dependent child up to a maximum of three children. A total of 85 points was needed for eligibility. Soldiers who had earned that number of points were to be demobilized as soon as transport back to the United States was available.

Another Military Mystery

Do the fragments of information about an ancestor or distant cousins military service frustrate you? I know that even though my dad shared some of his military experience with me, he got some of the dates confused. Since he served in the U.S. Navy toward the end of World War 2, I was fortunate to be able to get his military file from NARA. However many of the records for those who served in the Army and Air Force are more difficult to find.

Even though I likely would not spend the time or money to seek out a military file for a second cousin, I do get frustrated when very little information exists about their military service. Thus, when I come across an obituary indicating that a cousin was at the Battle of the Bulge in Europe and then part of the transfer of power form the United States to the Philippines in the Pacific, I’m intrigued and trying to locate additional information.

That’s the case with one of my Christy cousins: Oscar Morris Butcher.

Tipton County Tribune (Tipton, IN)
13 Nov 2012
page 2

Oscar Butcher

Oscar Butcher, 89, Kirklin, a World War II veteran, farmer and patriot, fought his last battle on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012.

Oscar Morris Butcher was born Dec. 3, 1922, to Orla and Gertie (Christy) Butcher in Hamilton County. He died in his Pickard area home.

He married Mary D. (Ploughe) Butcher on May 22, 1943 and she survives.

Mr. Butcher started school in Kempton and graduated from Sugar Creek High School in 1940. He attended Purdue University short-course agriculture classes on the GI Bill after returning from World War II. Pfc. Butcher was awarded the Bronze Star in Europe for engagement in the Battle of the Bulge. Motor Sgt. Butcher drove the lead vehicle escorting High Commissioner McNutt in the parade recognizing the transfer of military control from the United States to the Filipino government in 1946.

Oscar and Mary farmed in Sugar Creek Township for almost 70 years.
He was a member of Hills Baptist Church, the Pickard Masonic Lodge, the Scottish Rite and the Shriners. He served on the Board of Directors of Agmax (now Co-Alliance) for 18 years and as the Clinton County committeeman for FSA (Farm Service Agency), formerly ASCS (Agriculture Stabilization and Conservation Service), for 15 years. He belonged to the Michigantown Lions and Kirklin American Legion.

In addition to his wife, Mary, he is survived by daughter Glenda (Garry) Frey of Frankfort and sons Morris (Betty) Butcher and Mark (Sherie) Butcher of Kirklin; grandsons, Brian Butcher and Brent (fiancée Linda Kim) Butcher, and granddaughters, Stacey (Matt) Viars, Heather (Kent) Waddelow, Laura (Mark) Greathouse and Libby (Scott Satterthwaite) Frey. Great-grandchildren include Aubrey and Evan Waddelow; Adison, Carley and Jocelyn Viars; Mariana Greathouse and Oscar Satterthwaite. A sister, Alfretta Walker Schekel of Florida, also survives.

He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Hobart and Milton Butcher and sister Elnora Lamb.

Memorials may be made to Hills Baptist Church or the Murat Shrine Transportation Club.

Funeral service will be at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Kercheval Funeral Home, Sheridan, with the Rev. Robert Louden officiating. Burial will be in Greenlawn Memorial Park, Frankfort.

Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. today at the funeral home, with a Masonic service at 7 p.m.

“Oscar Butcher,” Tipton County Tribune (Tipton, Indiana), 13 November 2012, page 2; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 29 December 2021).

Since Oscar Butcher died in 2012, he is not included in the Department of Veterans’ BIRLS Death File. When I checked Fold3, he did have a ‘Memorial’ page,

According to Army Enlistment Records, Oscar M Butcher enlisted 2 Sept 1944. However, this record indicates that he was single.

Name: Oscar M Butcher
Race: White
Marital status: Single, without dependents (Single)
Rank: Private
Birth Year: 1922
Nativity State or Country: Indiana
Citizenship: Citizen
Residence: Clinton, Indiana
Education: 4 years of high school
Civil Occupation: General farmers
Enlistment Date: 2 Sep 1944
Enlistment Place: Indianapolis, Indiana
Service Number: 35907671
Branch: No branch assignment
Component: Selectees (Enlisted Men)
Source: Civil Life

Oscar’s Find a Grave memorial and his obituary indicate he married Mary Ploughe in 1943. An article listing marriage licenses was published in the 20 May 1943 issue of The Indianapolis Star.

“Marriage Licenses,” The Indianapolis Star (Indianapolis, Indiana), 20 May 1943, page 19; Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 30 December 2021).

Even though the marriage status on the enlistment record may be incorrect, there are other newspaper articles that support the enlistment of Oscar Morris Butcher in Sept. 1944.

Many Clinton Boys to Enter Service

Frankfort, April 14. – Approximately 50 per cent of the large group of Clinton county selectees taking pre-induction physical examinations in Indianapolis Thursday were seniors of high school or students approaching the 18-year age limit. The group was composed of 67 city and county men with the remainder of the 72 including five men transferred from other boards.
William Philip Dorner was leader of the group, assisted by his brother-in-law, Carl Robert Frederickson. Other selectees were … Oscar Morris Butcher.

“Many Clinton Boys to Enter Service,” Journal and Courier (Lafayette, Indiana), 14 April 1944, page 6; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 30 December 2021).

Clinton Co. Group Enters Service
Frankfort, Sept.. 2, – Following Clinton county selectees left here by bus Friday for Indianapolis, to be inducted into the armed forces:
Oscar Morris Butcher, leader; …

“Clinton Co. Group Enters Service,” Journal and Courier (Lafayette, Indiana), 2 September 1944, page 9; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 29 December 2021).

Then in June 1945, a short article not only indicates that Oscar Butcher was home on furlough but identifies the unit he served with.

On Furlough
Pvt. Oscar M. Butcher of the 86th division (Blackhawk) lately returned to this country, has arrived at the home of his parents on Kirklin route 2, for a 30-day furlough.

“On Furlough,” Journal and Courier (Lafayette, Indiana), 21 June 1945, page 18; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 29 December 2021).

Besides the local piece, an area paper, The Indianapolis News, published a list of all the soldiers coming home on furlough with the 86th Division that included Oscar Butcher’s name.

Here Is List of Indianapolis and Indiana Men Coming Home on Furlough with 86th Division
Indianapolis and other Hoosier members of the 86th division who are en route to their homes for thirty-day furloughs are listed below:
Indiana
Pvt. Oscar M. Butcher, Kirkland

“Here Is List of Indianapolis and Indiana Men Coming Home on Furlough with 86th Division,” The Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, IN), 18 June 1945, page 3; digital images, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 29 December 2021).

A July 1945 article about the 86th division indicates that after furlough, the soldiers reported to Camp Gruber in Oklahoma for training for service in the Pacific theater.

Troops of the 86th division first back from Europe, will assemble Aug. 1 at Camp Gruber, Okl., to learn how to kill Japanese as well as they polished off nazis.

Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln, Nebraska) 20 Jul 1945, page 2 on Newspapers.com

Then a May 1946 article in the Des Moines Tribune confirms the roll of the 86th division as the honor guard escorting Commissioner Paul V. McNutt during the diplomatic turn over of the Philippines at the close of World War 2.

Guard Roxas Taking Oath
Manila, Philippines — Ringed by submachineguns against a reported assassination plot, Manual A. Roxxas Tuesday becomes president of the Philippines commonwealth.

A United States 86th division honor guard escorted High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt to the rostrum a few minutes after Roxas’ arrival, and the consular and diplomatic corps turned out en masse for the ceremony.

Des Moines Tribune (Des Moines, Iowa) 28 May 1946, page 2 on Newspapers.com

The Holocaust Museum has a page devoted to the 86th Division. The Sons of Liberty also have a page on the 86th Division. A battle map for the 86th Division is for sale on several sites including Army Divisions.com

Flashback

In honor of the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor and what would have been my father’s 94th birthday on Dec. 8th, I am posting photos he took while servinig in the U.S. Navy in late 1945 and 1946.

Eugene David Crawford
Eugene Crawford
Eugene Crawford
U.S. Navy Ceremony
Al Salkind
Ben Stunburg of New Jersey

Joe Sierakoski
Al Salkind, Murph DeLanzo Ben Steinburg
Eugene Crawford – Furthest right on back row

My dad was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center in May 1945. In August 1945, he was transferred to the Gulfport Naval Training Station. In January 1946, he was back at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. In May 1946, my dad was transferred to Shoemaker, California and assigned to the USS Oneida (APA-221). No locations are written on any of the above photos.

WASP

Do you have a W.A.S.P. in your tree? No, I’m not talking about the insect but about the women who served as pilots during world war 2.

While researching descendants of John Lewis Ricketts, I came across the Find a Grave site for Helen Lucille Ricketts Rownd. Since her obituary was included on the site, I discovered that Helen Ricketts was a member of the Women’s Air Force Service Pilots (W.A.S.P.)

Images of America: Hammond. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, c2015.

So far, Ancestry and Fold3 have failed to turn up records for Helen Ricketts’ service. However, Google turned up quite a bit of information about Helen Ricketts Hooks Rownd.

Helen Ricketts is listed as a member of Class 43-W-2 which reported to Dallas in June 1943.

Eleven women from Class 43-2 reported  to Dallas in June: Betty Bachman, Ruth Dailey, Frances Dias, Betty Eames, Jane Emerson, Kay Gott, Ross Kary, Avanell Pinkley, Helen Ricketts, Cappy Vail and Betty Whitlow. These women followed in the footsteps of the WAFS – who served as flight leaders for them – and of the “Guinea Pigs” who had graduated a month earlier.

Sarah Byrn Rickman, WASP of the Ferry Command: Women Pilots, Uncommon Deed (Denton, Texas: University of North Texas, 2016), page 125; digital book, Google Books, https://www.google.com/books viewed online 22 November 2021.

The Woman’s Collection on the Texas Woman’s University Libraries web site has a list of the members of the WASP Class 43-W-2.

WASP CLASS 43-W-2

Dates: November 13, 1942-May 28, 1943

Number of Trainees: 51 trainees, 43 graduates

Place: Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas

This class completed training at the Houston Municipal Airport, Houston, Texas. They then flew to Sweetwater, Texas, in AT-6s and AT-17s which were being transferred from Houston. The exodus of this class marked the deactivation of the 318 th AAFFTD.

Graduation Speaker: Colonel J. H. Hills, Adjutant General and Executive Officer, AAF Flying Training Command, Fort Worth, Texas

Distinguished Guests: 

Jacqueline Cochran, Director of Women’s Flying Training Command
Major Francis Heasy, Public Relations Officer, AAFFTC
Captain H. G. Gibbons, Commanding Officer, 318th AAFFTD, Municipal Airport, Houston, Texas
Major L. J. Jurdan, AAFFTC

Band: Big Springs Bombardier School Band

Graduates

Adie, Lewise Dorothy Coleman
Anderson, Ann Ross Kary
Boylan, Margaret E. Kerr
Bridge, Catherine Vail 
Brown, Marion Schorr
Buehner, Betty J. Bachman
Carter, Norma J. Emerson
Chaffey, Lois K. Gott
Critchell, Iris Cummings 
Darnell, Barbara Russell
de Bernard, Katherine
Dickerson, Patricia A.
Disney, Virginia Alleman
Erickson, Patricia A. Chadwick
Fillmore, Carol
Genaro, Marie Muccie
Gery, Ellen H
Gustavson, France Dias
Harden, Emily Hiester
Hawkins, Ruth R. Thompson
Helm, Ruth Dailey
Hill, Geraldine B. Masinter
Hinds, Alma Marie Jerman
Huber, Mary Darling
Joiner, Betty Eames
Lamer, Zelda
Loop, Paula
Maier, Melvina K.
McArdle, Rita Moynahan
McKay, Mary Catherine Johnson
Moffatt, Virginia
Nichols, Dorothy
O’Brien, Mary T. Trotman
Pinkley, Avanell 
Reynolds, Ruth Franckling
Roberson, Florence E. Lawler
Rownd, Helen Ricketts 
Rupley, Martha D. Wagenseil
Smith, Elizabeth Whitlow
Stone, Helen S.
Trees, Ruth G.
Tunner, Margaret Ann Hamilton
Vanderpoel, Lila B. C

Woman’s Collection: WASP Class 43-W-2 (: viewed online 22 November 2021), Rownd, Helen Ricketts.
Texas Woman’s University, Women Airforce Service Pilots – Official Archive (https://twudigital.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection : viewed online 22 November 2021), Helen Ricketts Rownd.

Plane Down

Well, a Find a Grave memorial has done it again. They have just enough information about a military service member to prompt me to find more. This time, it is a second cousin twice removed on my Thompson line, Second Lieutenant Gene Marion Ashmore.

Thanks to the picture on Find a Grave, I was able to locate the obituary in the 17 Jan 1950 issue of the Greely Daily Tribune on Newspapers.com.

VFW Here Will Have Charge of Ashmore Service

Committal services for Second Lt. Gene M. Ashmore will be held at Linn Grove Saturday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock. Veterans of Foreign Wars will be in charge of military honors and Macys is making arrangements. The body will arrive Saturday.

Survivors are his parents, Mr. and Mrs. M. J. Ashmore of 1230 Twelfth street; three sisters, Miss Jessie and Miss Bernice Ashmore both of Greeley, and Mrs. Doris Anderson of Denver.

Born April 23, 1925, at Hastings, Nebr., the Lieutenant was graduated from Greeley high school and attended CSCE. He was killed Sept. 14, 1945, on Mindanso, Philippine Islands.

Ashmore was reported missing in flight over Luzon Island in late September, 1945. He served as a navigator on a R-24 and began his overseas duty in July, 1945. In August 1945, he was stationed on the island of Ie Shima.

Lt. Ashmore entered the service when he was 18. He was an aviation student at Wofford college, Spartanburg, S.C., where he took a five months course prior to his appointment as an aviation cadet in the army air forces flying training command.

He was classified a navigator at the completion of his course and assigned to the Nashville army air center in Tennessee for determination of branch of air crew service. He took his pre-flight training at Maxwell field, Ala., and received his second lieutenant wings as an aerial navigator at San Marcos, Tex.

The plane went down when its crew was ferrying prisoners of war out of Japan to the Philippine Islands.

“VFW Here Will Have Charge of Ashmore Service,” Greeley Daily Tribune (Greeley, Colorado), 17 January 1950, page 1; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 19 November 2021).

A search of Fold3 for Gene M Ashmore turned up two men of that name in the records for World War II. One is obviously the incorrect Gene Ashmore since he served in the Medical Administrative Corps. Fortunately, the second Gene Ashmore appears in records that help confirm the information in the obituary. One of these results leads to a “Missing Air Crew Report”

Confidential
War Department
Headquarters Army Air Forces
Washington

Missing Air Crew Report
Important: This report will be compiled in triplicate by each Army Air Forces organization within 48 hours of the time an aircraft is officially reported missing.

IE Shima Ryukyus

Organization: Location Retto Japan; Command or Air Force V Air Force
Group 43rd Bomb Group; Squadron 65th Bomb Sq.; Detachment _____

Specify: Point of Departure Moro[xxd]; Course Unknown; Intended Destination Clark Field Luzon; Type of Mission Routine

Weather Condition and Visibility at Time of crash or When Last Reported _______

Give: (a) Date 14 Sep 45; Time Unknown; and Location Moratai of last known whereabouts of missing aircraft.

Aircraft was lost or is believed to have been lost, as a result of ( ) Enemy Aircraft; ( ) Enemy Anti-Aircraft; (x) Other circumstances as follows Unknown

Aircraft: Type, Model and Series B 24 M; A.A.F. Serial Number 1562

The person listed below were reported as (a) Battle Casualty ______ or (b) Non-Battle Casualty __X___

Number of Persons Aboard Aircraft: Crew –5– ; Passengers — 0 — ; Total — 5 —

Crew position — Name in Full — Rank — Serial Number
Pilot Pickens, William E Jr Capt. 01165546
Co Pilot Furman, Clarence J. 2nd Lt 083825[3]
Nav. Ashmore, gene M. 2nd Lt 02081367
Eng. Biergel, William [M] Sgt 31348888
Radio Op. Ryan, William W. Sgt 11067496

Identify below those persons who are believed to have last knowledge of aircraft, and check appropriate column to indicate basis for same:
Unknown

If personnel are believed to have survived, answer yes to one of the following statements: (a) Parachutes were used _____; (b) Persons were seen walking away from scene of crash ______; or (c) Any other reason (Specify) Unknown

Attach aerial photograph, map, chart, or sketch, showing approximate location where aircraft was last seen, UNKNOWN

Attach eyewitness descriptions of crash, forced landing, or other circumstances pertaining to missing aircraft. UNKNOWN

Attach a description of the extent of search, if any, and give name, rank and serial number of officer in charge here UNKOWN

Date of Report: Unknown

Bernie W. White Jr (Signature of Preparing Officer)
Bernie W. White Jr
1st Lt. Air Corps
Commanding

Confidential

—————————————–

Sixty Fifth Bombardment Squadron (H)
Forty Third Bombardment Group (H)
APO 245

30 September 1945

Subject: Casualty Report

To: Commanding General, Far Est Air Force, APO 925

S.W. Pacific
5th A.F. (handwritten)

In compliance with FEAF Regulation 35-45, dated 1 May 1945, the following report is submitted

Cut – Missing

Non-Battle Casualty
Pickens, William E. Jr., Capt., 01165546, White
65th Bomb Sq, 43rd Bomb Op (H)
Pilot – 1092
Missing in flight between Morotai Island and Clark Field, Luzon. Plane took off from Morotai and is unreported at Clark Field
14 September 1945
Body was not recovered
Unknown
Line of Duty – Yes
Not own misconduct
On Flying Status, Yes. Pilot
Award Pay – None
Mrs. Lady Lytle Pickens, wife, 716 N. Church St., Murfreesboro, Tennessee
Presbyterian

Non-Battle Casualty
Furman, Clarence J., 2d Lt., 0838253, white
65th Bomb Sq, 43rd Bomb Op (H)
Pilot – 1051
Missing in flight between Morotai Island and Clark Field, Luzon. Plane took off from Morotai and is unreported at Clark Field
14 September 1945
Body was not recovered
Unknown
Line of Duty – Yes
Not own misconduct
On Flying Status, Yes. Pilot
Award Pay – None
Mrs. Anna Mary Murman, wife, RFD#1, Punsxutawney, Penna
Methodist

Non-Battle Casualty
Ashmore, Gene M., 2d Lt., 02081367, White
65th Bomb Sq, 43rd Bomb Op (H)
Navigator – 1034
Missing in flight between Morotai Island and Clark Field, Luzon. Plane took off from Morotai and is unreported at Clark Field
14 September 1945
Body was not recovered
Unknown
Line of Duty – Yes
Not own misconduct
On Flying Status, Yes. Navigator
Award Pay – None
Mrs. Louis J. Ashmore, Mother, 1230 Twelfth St., Greeley, Colorado
Methodist

Non-Battle Casualty
Biergel, William A., Sgt., 31348888, White
65th Bomb Sq, 43rd Bomb Op (H)
Aerial Engineer – 748
Missing in flight between Morotai Island and Clark Field, Luzon. Plane took off from Morotai and is unreported at Clark Field
14 September 1945
Body was not recovered
Unknown
Line of Duty – Yes
Not own misconduct
On Flying Status, Yes. Aerial Engineer
Award Pay – None
Mrs. Mary Biergel, Mother, Northwest St., Feeding Hills, Mass
Catholic

Non-Battle Casualty
Ryan, William W., Sgt., 11067496, White
65th Bomb Sq, 43rd Bomb Op (H)
Radio Operator – 757
Missing in flight between Morotai Island and Clark Field, Luzon. Plane took off from Morotai and is unreported at Clark Field
14 September 1945
Body was not recovered
Unknown
Line of Duty – Yes
Not own misconduct
On Flying Status, Yes. Radio Operator
Award Pay – None
Mrs. Mary A. Ryan, Mother, 11 Westchester St., Lowell, Mass
Catholic

Report delayed because of lack of information concerning the flight at this Headquarters.

Max W. Williams
Max W. Williams
Capt., Air Corps
Commanding

Even though the “Missing Air Crew Report” indicates there were no passengers on the plan, a letter in the same file names three other people on the plane.

AFPPA-8/FK/d1b/72490
Rm 5E 185 26 September 1946

AFPPA-8
AAF 201 – (14993) Pickens, William E., jr.
0-1165546

30 September 1946

Mrs. Lounora B. Pickens
Box 124
Lewisburg, Tennessee

Dear Mrs. Pickens:

Reference is made to your letter of 8 June 1946, addressed to The Adjutant General and referred to this office for further reply concerning your son, Captain William E. Pickens, Jr.

According to information received in this Headquarters, the following are the names of the passengers who were aboard your son’s aircraft when it crashed in the Pacific area. The names and addresses of their emergency addresses are also furnished.

Private First Class Paul W Fors Killed — Mrs. Anna C. Fors (Mother) Ewen, Michigan
Private First Class Pasquale Castigliola Killed– Mrs. Mary Castigliola (Mother) 414 Columbus Street, Brooklyn, NY
Private First Class Leonard W. Jennings Killed — Mrs. Ella M. Jennings (Mother) Route 1 Morrill, Nebraska

It is noted from a review of the War Department reports regarding your son that all of the known details concerning your son’s death have been conveyed to you in correspondence from this Headquarters and The Adjutant General.

Again, my deepest sympathy is extended to you in your great loss.

Sincerely yours,

Leon W. Johnson
Brigadier General, J. S. Army
Deputy. AC/AS-1

Little additional information about the Gene Ashmore has been found. However, some news articles about the pilot and others on the plane has been found.

Capt. Pickens, B-24 Pilot, Is Reported Missing Off Luzon

Capt. William E. Pickens, Jr., husband of the former Miss Lady Houston of Murfreesboro, is reported missing off Luzon since September 14, a message received from the War department yesterday by Mrs. Pickens brought word.

Pilot of a B-24, Captain Pickens went overseas the past June.

Messages from the War department stated that Mrs. Pickens would be notified if any further word was obtained regarding her husband. The daughter of Mr. and Mrs. S. F. Houston, she and Captain Pickens were married in June, 1944. He is a native of Lewisburg.

The Daily News-Journal (Murfreesboro, TN), 14 Oct 1945, page 1 on Newspapers.com

Confirm Death of Captain Pickens, Missing Off Luzon

Word of the death of Capt. William E. Pickens, Jr., 28 husband of the former Miss Lady Houston of Murfreesboro, in a plane crash off Luzon last September, has been received from the War department.

Captain Pickens had been reported missing since last September 14, when a four-plane flight of B-24 Liberators, en route from Morotai to Manila, encountered a typhoon. Three of the planes reached Manila safely, but Captain Pickens’ plane, which he was piloting, was lost in the storm.

Captain Pickens had been overseas since June of last year, and had participated in many raids on Tokyo. He was stationed at Ie Shima, and witnessed the arrival there of the Jap surrender plane, bearing envoys to meet MacArthur’s representative in Manila.

A native of Lewisburg, where he was graduated from the high school, Captain Pickens was the son of W. E. Pickens, Sr., Marshall county circuit court clerk, and Mrs. Lounora Pickens. He was in charge of the city electric department there prior to entering service. His marriage to Miss Houston occurred in June, 1944.

The Daily News-Journal (Murfreesboro, TN), 30 Jan 1946, page 1 on Newspapers.com

A page dedicated to Sergeant William A. Biergel on the QuestMaster.us site contains more information about the plane and the crash.

  • Newly delivered B-24M-30-FO “Liberator” Bomber Serial Number 44-51562
  • Attached to 65th Bomb Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group
  • Flight occurred 14 Sept 1945
  • Aircraft crashed in Pacific Ocean for unknown reasons
  • Remains of St. Biergel were eventually recovered to a U.S.A.A.F. cemetery on Leyte and later repatriated to Massachusetts.

Rest of Story – Hers

I recently wrote about Ernest Eugene Ricketts who was captured while serving for the U.S. Navy, help prisoner at Cabannatun and rescued by the Army Rangers. However, there is another side to his story — and that is her story.

Ernest Rickett married Alice Mok on September 20, 1937 in Shanghai, China.

Ernest Rickett was called back to active service in October 1940 leaving behind his wife Alice along with their three young children. In March 1942, Ernest Rickett was reported missing in action. In October 1942, Ernest Rickett was imprisoned at Cabannatun. In January, 1945, Ernest and about 500 other prisoners were rescued. By March 1945, Ernest was back in Iowa, while his wife and children were still in China.

So far, I haven’t found any newspaper articles about the arrival of Alice and her children in the United States. However, there is a 1959 article about the family that indicates they arrived in 1946. There is a short article on the front page of the 13 Nov 1946 Hedrick Journal which indicates the family had purchased a house in Hedrick.

Mrs. Ernest Rickett and family have moved into the property they recently purchased which is located on North Main street and which was formerly occupied by the Aben Swanstrom family. Mrs. Ricketts is glad of an opportunity to live in her husband’s hometown and to know his relatives and friends. Ricketts is still confined to the Navy hospital.

“Local news,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 18 November 1946, page 1; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 17 November 2021).

In December 1946, Mrs. Ricketts visited her husband at the Great Lakes Naval hospital.

Mrs. Ernest Rickett returned Sunday after a few days spent with her husband who is in the Great Lakes Naval hospital. Rickett’s condition is somewhat improved.

“Local news,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 18 December 1946; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 17 November 2021).

Ernest Rickett died 18 Jan 1947 leaving behind his wife, Alice and their 3 children: Margaret, Ernest and Pauline.

In November 1948, Alice and her children moved to Mount Pleasant, Iowa.

Interesting newcomers from Hedrick, are the Alice Rickett family who have purchased the Lee Courtney property here. Mrs. Rickett is a native of China and her three children: Margret, Ernest and Paulne, al were born in China prior to world War II. Their father, an American, a former resident of Hedrick, is now deceased.

“Local Happenings,” The Mount Pleasant News (Mount Pleasant, Iowa), 22 November 1948, page 3; digial images, Southeast Iowa Advantage-Preservation (seiowa.advantage-preservation : viewed online 17 November 2021).

In July 1949, Alice Mok Rickett took the exam to become a naturalized citizen. Alice Rickett was naturalized on 19 Sep 1949 in Ottumwa, Iowa.

Alice Rickett Widow of Ernest Rickett veteran of World war 2 had a thrilling experience September 19th when she became a citizen of the United States of America. A native of China, she and her children, Margaret, Ernest Jr. and Pauline, came to this country to join Chief M. M. Ernest Rickett following the close of World War II. The arrived at Hedrick, Iowa where relatives gave them a warm welcome. Then it was that Alice Rickett applied for naturalization papers in Wapello county. She took the written examinations July 29th and it was a happy day for her and her American citizen children when she received notice to appear at the Post Office building in Ottumwa for the final proceeding. with seven other persons she was presented a certificate of citizenship following an impressive address by a member of the American Legion — it was a dramatic moment in Alice Rickett’s life when, by a member of the D.A.R. she was presented a small American Flag. How did you feel at that moment, we asked Alice, and she quickly answered, “Like a million — I am proud to be a citizen of the United States of America.”

“Around Town and Countryside,” The Mount Pleasant News (Mount Pleasant, Iowa), 8 October 1949, page 6; digial images, Southeast Iowa Advantage-Preservation (seiowa.advantage-preservation : viewed online 17 November 2021).

Thanks to another user of the FamilySearch tree, I was able to quickly locate the ‘Petition for Naturalization’ of Alice Mok Rickett.

No. 709

United States of America

Petition for Naturalization

[Of a Married Person, under Sec. 310(a) or(b), 311 or 312, of the Nationality Act of 1940 (54 Stat. 1144-1145)]

To the Honorable the United States District southern District Court of Iowa at Ottumwa, Iowa

This petition for naturalization, hereby made and filed pursuant to Section 310 of the Nationality Act of 1940, respectfully shows:

(1) My full, true, and correct name is Alice Mok Rickett

(2) My present place of residence is 306 E. Clay, Mt Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa. (3) My occupation is housekeeper

(4) I am 43 years old. (5) I was born on December 23, 1905 in Provin of Kwong Tse, China

(6) My personal description is as follows: Sex: Female; Color Oriental: complexion Medium, color of eyes Dk Brown, color of hair black, height 5 feet 1 inches, weight 110 pounds; visible distinctive marks mole on chin; race Chinese; present nationality Chinese

(7) I was married; the name of my husband was Ernest E. Rickett; we were married on September 20, 1937 at shanghai, China; he was born at Hedrick, Keokuk County, Iowa on Dec. 19, 1895

entered the United States at XXX on XX for permanent residence in the United States, and now resides at

deceased January 18 1947 and was naturalized on XXX at XXX

certificate No XX; or became a citizen by birth in the United States

(8) I have three children; and the name, sex, date and place of birth, and present place of residence of each said children who is living, are as follows:

Margaret (f) Dec. 2,1933, Hankow, China, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

Ernest (m) March 12, 1936, Hankow, China, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

Pauline (f) Sept. 11, 1940, Shanghai, China, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa

(9) My last place of foreign residence was Shanghau, China (10) I emigrated to the United States form Shanghai, China

(11) My lawful entry for permanent residence in the United States was at San Francisco, Calif under the name of Alice Nok Rickett on June 2, 1946 on the SS Gen J. C. Breckenbridge as shown by the certificate of my arrival attached to this petition.

(12) Since my lawful entry for permanent residence I have not been absent from the United States, for a period or periods of 6 months or longer, as follows:

(18) I have resided continuously in the United States of America for the term of three years at least immediately preceding the date of this petition, to wit: since June 2, 1946

(19) I have not heretofore made petition for naturalization

Signed: Alice Mok Rickett

Iowa Naturalization Records, 1859-1990, Alice Mok Rikett, 2 June 1946; database with images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : viewed online 17 November 2021).

In 1959, Alice Rickett’s visit to Iowa was chronicled in the article, “Ernest Rickett Would Have Been Proud of His Family.”

Ernest Rickett Would Have Been Proud of His Family

Mrs. Ernest Rickett, now of Fullerton, Calif., is visiting friends and relatives in this community, and her youngest daughter, Pauline, who is enrolled as a freshman at the state University of Iowa, this fall.

Mrs. Rickett, a native of China, formerly lived in Hedrick, having come form China in 1946 with her three children to join her husband, Ernest, who had been freed from a Japanese prison camp, in the Philippine a few months earlier. Rickett met his wife in China, while serving with the U.S. Navy.

The family moved to Hedrick in the fall and the children entered school. However, Mr Rickett became ill and only lived five months after the arrival of his family. He died in a Naval hospital in Illinois, a victim of tuberculosis, which he had contracted in the prison camp.

The family lived in Hedrick about two years, before moving to Mt. Pleasant, where the two older children, Margaret and Ernest, graduated from high school with high honors. Margaret graduated from the State University three years ago, having maintained a high average, serving in several offices, and was vie-president of the Motor Board. She is now employed in the data processing division of I.B.M. in Long Beach, Calif., and lives with her mother.

Ernest attended Grinnel college one year, having received a scholarship, and transferred to State University, graduating in 1958. He enlisted in the Navy and is now at Officer’s Candidate School in the east.

Pauline, the youngest, graduated from Fullerton high school in California as an honor student. She received a scholarship to the University of California, but preferred to come to Iowa as the others had graduated here.

Mrs. Ricketts is employed as a dietitian’s aid in the Veterans Administration hospital near her home. She has attended Adult Education classes, and paints as a hobby. She owns her home, dries a car, and with her family are typical Americans, having made the best of the opportunities which are offered to the family on one who gave his life for his country.

“Ernest Rickett Would Have Been Proud of His Family,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 7 October 1959, page 1; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 16 November 2021).

Ernest Rickett’s story is not complete without also knowing his wife’s story.

Rest of the Story

When researching a distant cousin, do you ever run across some information about that cousin that just begs you to research more of the story? Well, that’s the case with one of the descendants of William Taylor Thompson that I’m researching.

The Find a Grave site for Ernest Eugene Rickett contains a copy of an obituary.

Hedrick Journal, January 22, 1947

Chief Machinist’s Mate Ernest Rickett, 51, who survived 38 months of imprisonment by the Japanese at Cabannatun, Philippine Islands during World War II, died at 10 p.m. Saturday in the Naval Hospital at Great Lakes, Illinois.

Rickett had been in the hospital since August but was improving and his death was unexpected. His wife, who with their children live in Hedrick, had visited him at the hospital a week before his death. He was born and reared in Hedrick and had been in the Navy 30 years. He was living in Shanghai with his family when recalled to active duty prior to the outbreak of World War II and was serving at Manila Bay when captured.

He was liberated January 30, 1945 and arrived in Hedrick March 3, 1945. When his family first arrived in Iowa, they lived in Oskaloosa, lately moving to their home in Hedrick. He was a member of the American Legion Post at Oskaloosa. Surviving are his wife, Alice, two daughters, Margaret, 13, and Pauline, 6, and a son, Ernest Jr., three sisters, Mrs. Earl Hamilton of Hedrick, Mrs. Ollie Tennis of Beacon, and Mrs. Herbert Dickey of Cantril, and two brothers, Andrew Rickett of Knoxville and Clifford Rickett of Phoenix, Arizona.

The body arrived in Ottumwa at 8:30 this morning and will remain at the Cooperative Burial Association in Fremont until time for the funeral services Thursday. The funeral services will be conducted at the Christian Church Thursday afternoon at 2 o’clock with complete military services at the grave. Interment will be made in Brooks Cemetery beside his mother.

****Ernest Rickett gave a good accounting of his life in a Japanese POW camp. His story was published in the Hedrick Journal on March 07, 1945. Excerpts from the story are below, but the entire story is a good read.

“Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Chief Rickett was a member of the Naval Reserves and resided in China. He was called into action and was on shore patrol at Manila Bay, where he was captured on May 6, 1942.”

“The camp [Cabannatun] was a half mile long and a quarter mile wide, surrounded by high wire fence. Outside the camp was a 900 acre farm on which the prisoners labored. Their food was principally rice, radish tops, a native sweet potato plant, and a native lettuce. Every ten days they were given a small portion of meat with which they made gravy.”

“At the time of his release, he was preparing for bed and was clothed only in his shorts. When the firing started, everyone fell to the ground for they thought these shots were from Japanese guns. He said he heard shouts, ‘Come on, the Yanks are here!’ At these words, all made a dash to freedom. In Rickett’s own words, “I didn’t wait for my clothing; I grabbed my shoes and left.'”

“Chief Rickett, who has been in the Navy for 28 years, is wearing seven service stripes and four campaign medals; they are South West Pacific, American Defense, China Service, Filipino Defense, for World War II. For World War I, he has the Victory Medal, Second Nicaraguan Campaign, Yanks Sea Service, and Good Conduct.”

This information on Find a Grave challenged me to learn more about Ernest Eugene Rickett and his military service. My initial search of Fold3 was unsuccessful. Not willing to give up, I turned to newspapers — and located articles that help fill in the details.

Ernest Ricket Is Reported Missing

Mrs. Earl Hamilton has received word from the navy department that her brother, Ernest Eugene Rickett, 47, machinist’s mate first class of the U.S. Naval Reserve, is reported missing in action May 6, 1942, in the Manila Bay area, when Corregidor fell.

Mr. Rickett enlisted in the navy in 1917, serving in World War No. 1, and retired in 1937, after 20 years service and had residedin Shanghai, China, since. He was called back to active service Oct. 18, 1940, and was assigned tot he U.S.S. Luzon, which was severely damaged by enemy gun fire and was sunk by U.S. forces, when capture appeared imminent. So far as is known no casualties resutled and it is feared he may be a prisoner of war.

He is the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. A. D. Rickett of Hedrick and was born and reared in Hedrick and attended the Hedrick schools from which he graduated in 1913. As far as can be learned his wife and three children are still in China.

“Ernest Rickett Is Reported Missing,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 23 December 1942, page 1; digital iamges, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 14 November 2021).

Rickett Believed Rescued at Luzon

Included in the rescue of 513 Yank prisoners ant Luzon, Phillippines, recently was one Earnest E. Rickett with address of Shanghai, China. Mrs. Earl Hamilton, of Hedrick, has a brother by that name and address, who is the son of the late Mr. and Mrs. A. D. Rickett, of Hedrick.

Rickett graduated from the Hedrick high school with the class of 1913. Shortly after graduating he entered the navy and served over 20 years. He retired from the navy service and established a home in Shanghai, China, where he lived with his wife and three children at the start of the present war.

He was called into service with the outbreak of the war and shortly after re-entering the service was reported missing. His wife made an attempt to correspond with his relatives in Hedrick and her communication was answered. No reply has been received and relatives have been unsuccessful in receiving information through several other sources.

His relatives believe that the Earnest E. Ricktt rescured fits the description of the former Hedrick man with the same name, address and rating. Also from the fact that when he was last heard from he was in the Philippine area. Other relatives are a sister, Mrs. H. A. Dickey of Cantril, a brother, Andrew at Knoxville, and a brother Clifford address unkown.

Hedrick Journal — Feb. 7th 1945 page 1

Rickett Home From Phillippines

Chief machinist Mate Earnest E. Rickett, who was recently released as a prisoner of war from Camp Cabannatuan in the Phillippines, and arrived in Hedrick Sunday, gave the following story of his life as a prisoner of the Japanese:

Before the attack on Pearl Harbor Chief Rickett was a member of the Naval Reserves, and resided in China. He was then called into action and was in shore patrol at Manilla Bay, later assigned to defense patrol at Ft. Hughes, where he was captured May 6 1942, following the fall of Corregidor. He was among 7,000 other Americans who were then sent to various prison camps. On October 29, 1942, he was sent to Cabannatun, where he remained until his recent release.

Rickett described Cabannatun as a former Phillippine army training camp, and mamy barracks still remained. The camp was half a mile long and a quartr mile wide, surrounded by high wire fence. Outside the camp was a 900-acre farm on which the prisoners labored.

Their food was principally rice, radish tops, a native sweet potato plant, a native lettuce called pichi, and very ten days they were given a small portion of meat with which they made gravy. They had no bread, but during the later months they ground rice from which they made a bread which would not keep well. Their food was eaten from regular army mess kits and the prisoners made rude stools and tables. There beds were nothing but bamboo slats and Chief Rickett sad one was very lucky if they had and bedding.

At the time of his release with the 511 disabled men the resto of the 7,000 had been moved for war work and to various other camps.

Regular church services were held in the prison camp, with Chaplains for every denomination. There were plenty of doctors but a very small amount of medical supplies. In the early part of 1943 they received a small amount of medical supplies.

Rickett said that time moved quickly until the planes started coming over last September. He said he had never given up hope for freedom, and that the planes made them realize something was ready to happen.

At the time of the release he was preparing for bed, and was clothed only in his shorts. When the firing started everyone fell to the ground for they thought these shots were from Japanese guns. He said he heard shouts, “Come on, the Yanks are here!” At these words, all made a dash to freedom. In Rickett’s own words, “I didn’t wait for my clothing; I grabbed my shoes and left.”

When asked about his feeling when he was released he said, “If there was a happier man in the world than I was, I would have like to have seen him.” Of General MacArthur, Rickett said, “He is the grandest general in the world, and there will always be a soft spot in my heart for the MarArthurs, for at one time the General’s brother, Capt. Arthur MacArthur, was captain of my ship.”

Rickett flew from Pearl Harbor to San Francisco on the flying boat the Mars with eight other prisoners of war. The thing that impressed him most was the improvement and change in the navy and their new weapons.

Chief Rickett, who has been in the navy for 28 years is wearing seven service stripes, and four campaign medals; they are South West Pacific, American Defense, China Service, Phillippine Defence for World War II. For World War I, he has the Victory Medal, Second Nicaraguan Campaign, Yanks Sea Searvice and Good Conduct.

This is the first time Chief Rickett ahs been in Hedrick since 1929. A family reunion was held Sunday at the Earl Hamilton home in his honor. The following relatives were present: Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Rickett, Mrs. Vance Sterling and daughter Charlotte, Mrs George Slocum and daughter Connie Joe, all of Knoxville; Mrs. George Perry and daughter Marilyn of Oskaloosa; Mr. and Mrs. H. A. Dickey and son Zane, of Cantril and Herschel Dickey.

Hedrick Journal – March 7, 1945

Still determined to find muster rolls, I turned to Google and searched for “u.s. naval reserves muster rolls 1939”. The first item was a link to the National Archives. However, the second and third item led me to digital versions of these muster rolls on Ancestry and on Fold3.

A search of the Ancestry database resulted in 6 records that are likely for the same Ernest Rickett.

The Fold3 link led me to the ‘WWII Navy Muster Rolls’.

A search of this Fold3 record set for Ernest Rickett resulted in links to the actual muster rolls.

World War II Resources

Ernest Eugene Rickett

Ernest Eugene Rickett12 was born on 19 Dec 1895 in Iowa, United States.1,34

He lived in Highland Township, Wapello, Iowa, United States on 5 Jun 1900.1 Earnest Ricket was listed as the son of Earnest Ricket on the 1900 census. He was born Dec 1895 (age 4) in Iowa.

He lived in Hedrick, Keokuk, Iowa, United States in 1905.5

Ernest lived in Benton Township, Keokuk, Iowa, United States in 1910.6

He served in the military U.S. Navy in 1917.7

He lived aboard the U.S.S. Chattanooga in Harwich, England in 1920.8

Ernest lived in Hedrick, Keokuk, Iowa, United States in 1925.9

On 26 Mar 1927 he was a was licensed as assistant Engineer of Steam Vessels in New York City, New York County, New York Colony, British Colonial America.10

He retired from the U.S. Navy after 20 years of service in 1937.7

Ernest lived in Shanghai, China in 1939.11

He was called back to active service and reported aboard the U.S.S. Augusta on 18 Oct 1940.7,1213

He served in the military aboard the U.S.S. Luzon (PR7) on 31 Dec 1940.14

Ernest served in the military aboard the U.S.S. Luzon (PR7) on 31 Mar 1941.12

He served in the military aboard the U.S.S. Luzon (PR7) on 30 Sep 1941.15

He was reported missing in action when Corregidor fell on 6 May 1942 in Manilla Philippines.7

On 29 Oct 1942, Ernest was sent to prison camp in Cabannatun.1617

In in Jan 1945,he was rescued from the prisoner of war camp in Cabanatuan, Philippines.16,18

He was listed aboard the U.S.S. Hearld of the Morning (AP-173) on 15 Feb 1945–28 Feb 1945.1920

Ernest was on list of nonenlisted pasengers on U.S.S.Triangulum (AK-102( on 27 Feb 1945.21

On 4 Mar 1945, he arrived home from the war in Hedrick, Keokuk, Iowa, United States.16

He died on 18 Jan 1947 at the age of 51 in Great Lakes, Lake, Illinois, United States.24,2223

Ernest was buried at Brooks Cemetery in Hedrick, Keokuk, Iowa, United States.34

ENDNOTES:

1. 1900 U.S.Census, Wapello County, Iowa, population schedule, Highland Township, Wapello County, Iowa, ED 133, Sheet 2B Image 4 of 22, household 36, A.D. Ricket; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online Juen 2017); NARA T623

2. Find a Grave, database and images, Find a Grave (www.findagrave.com : viewed online 12 November 2020), memorial for William Andrew Rickett (1882-1964), Find a Grave Memorial no. #146462885, created by Cindy Lovell & Steve Hols, citing Westview Cemetery, Kirkville, Wapello County, Iowa; accompanying photograph by Cindy Lovell & Steve Hols, William Andrew RIckett.

3. Find a Grave, database and images, Find a Grave (www.findagrave.com : viewed online 14 November 2021), memorial for Ernest Eugene Rickett (1895-1947), Find a Grave Memorial no. #88524800, created by Jane Cockayne weaver, citing Brooks Cemetery, Hedrick, Keokuk County, Iowa; accompanying photograph by djtruitt, Ernest Eugene Rickett.

4. “Illinois, Deaths and Stillbirths Index 1916-1947,” database online, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 November 2021), Ernest Eugnee Rickett.

5. “Iowa State Census 1905,”The State Historical Society of Iowa, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : Hedrick, Keokuk, Iowa, viewed online (13 November 2021), Manda A Rickett.

6. 1910 U.S. Census, Keokuk County, Iowa, population schedule, Benton Township, Keokuk County, IA, ED 44, sheet 5A Image 9 of 20, family 131, Albert Di Rickett; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online October 2018)

7. “Ernest Rickett Is Reported Missing,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 23 December 1942, page 1; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 14 November 2021).

8. 1920 U.S. Census, Military and Naval Forces – U.S.S. Chattanooga in Harwich, England, population schedule, U.S.S.Chattanooga, Harwich, England, Sheet 2B Image 4 of 6, line 82, Ernest E Rickett; digital imge, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 November 2021); NARA microfilm publication T625

9. 1925 Iowa State Census, Keokuk County, Iowa, Iowa state census, Hedrick, Keokuk County, Iowa, image 49 of 96 Image 49 of 96, Rickett Albert D; digital image, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online September 2018)

10. U.S., Merchant Marine Applications for License of Officers, 1914-1949, Ernest E Rickett, 26 March 1927; database with images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 November 2021). Original Source: Merchant Marine Applications for Licenses of Officers.

11. Find a Grave, database and images, Find a Grave (www.findagrave.com : viewed online 14 November 2021), memorial for Albert Virgil Rickett, Find a Grave Memorial no. #53768061,

12. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Rickett, Ernest Eugene, 31 March 1941; database withimages, Fold3 (www.fold3.com : viewed online 15 November 2021).

13. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Ernest E Rickett, 18 October 1940; .

14. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Ernest E Rickett, 31 December 1940; .

15. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Ernest RIckett, 30 September 1941; .

16. “Rickett Home from Phillippines,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 7 March 1945, page 1; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 15 November 2021).

17. Navy Casualties Books, 1776-1941, Rickett, Ernest, database with images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 November 2021). Original Source: U.S. Navy Department Library.

18. “Rickett Believed Rescued at Luzon,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 7 February 1945, page 1; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 15 November 2021).

19. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Ernest E. Rickett, 28 February 1945; .

20. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Ernest Ricketts, 15 February 1945; .

21. WWII Navy Muster Rolls, Ernest E Rickett, 27 February 1945; .

22. Find a Grave, database and images, Find a Grave (www.findagrave.com : viewed online 14 November 2021), memorial for Harry Clifton Rickett (1893-1947), Find a Grave Memorial no. #167656528,

23. Iowa World War II Bonus Case Files for Beneficiaries, 1947-1959, Ernest Eugene Rickett, 16 May 1949; databast with imags, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 16 November 2021). Original Source: State Historical Society of Iowa.

Details Needed

‘Do you ever run across some information that does fill in the birth-marriage-or-death blanks that leave a lot of questions. That’s the situation I’m in as I research descendants of my ancestor, William Taylor Thompson.

Meredith C. Hall’s record on Find a Grave indicates he or she died 1 Mar 1942 at sea.

Based on the death indicating a loss at sea in 1942, I assumed this was a military related death. Hoping to learn more about Meredith C. Hall, I started by trying to find an obituary or a death notice in a South Dakota paper in March 1942. My initial search on Newspapers.com wasn’t very productive.

So I turned to Google to try and find out what military event(s) resulted in deaths at sea on March 1,1942. One of the results was a Naval History Homepage site that listed casualties from the U.S.S. Houston which sunk on March 1, 1942. Since I didn’t find Meredith Hall on this page, I turned to Fold3.

On Fold3, I found several rosters listing a Meredith C. Hall aboard the U.S.S. Houston.

31 Dec 1939

31 March 1940 Roster

30 June 1940 Roster

4 August 1940 Roster

The entry for Meredith Hall in the booklet, State Summary of War Casualties [South Dakota] by the U.S. Navy in 1946 indicates that Meredith Hall was from Artesian and the son of Mrs. Anna Hall. This matches the descendant of William Thompson that I’m researching.

Also on Fold3 was a page created by the American Battle Monuments Commission for Meredith C Hall. This page indicates a death date of 15 Dec 1945.

Since the memorial contains a different date of death than the Find a Grave record, I returned to Newspapers.com and broadened the search to include the years of 1942 thru 1946. That turned up the article, “11 More S.D. Men in Navy Are Missing’ in the 15 May 1942 issue of the Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, South Dakota).

11 More S.D. Men in Navy Are Missing

Department Issues Third Casualty List — 18 Reported Before

Washngton, May 15. – (AP) – Eleven South Dakota navy men were listed today by the navy department as missing as the department issued casualty list No. 3. The list covered the period from December 7, 1941 to April 15, 1942. In previous casualty lists, the navy reported 12 dead and six injured from this state in the same period.
The missing and next of Kin:
carl R. Davidson, second lieutenant, marine corps; father, Harry B. Davidson, 412 west Twenty-sixth st., Sioux Falls.
(Parents of lieutenant Davidson wee notified as of May 5 that their son had been removed from the “missing” classification and is now officially considered dead).
Elra Franklin Barringer, fire controlman, second class; mother, Mrs. Marjorie Jan Barringer, 945 Wisconsin street, Huron
John Roger Bell, water tender, second class; father , Clement Henry Bell, Watertown.
Frank Joseph Glesen, chief torpedoman; sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Wermers, Dimock.
Meredith Carrol Hall, seaman, first class; mother, Mrs. Anna D. Hall, Artesian.
Elmer Charles Halverson, seaman, first class; brother, Francis Herbert Halverson, McIntosh.
Wendell Herbert Hanson, signalman, second class; father, Herbert Miller Hanson, Hartford.
Lawrence Headly, machinists’s mate, first class; mother, Mrs. Eva M. Headly, 203 S.E. Fourth street, Watertown.
Clifford Emil Henn, seaman, first class; father, Emil Emanuel Hehn, 308 North Jay, Aberdeen.
Thayne Charles Smith, torpedoman, second class; father, Lester Irvin Smith, 17 South Ohio street, Clark.
Dwyce Donald Wince, machinist’s mate, second class; mother, Mrs. Ruth Elizabeth Wince, 314 E. Main street, Vermillion.

So far, these records indicate the following:

  • Meredith Hall was aboard the U.S.S. Houston
  • In May of 1942, Meredith Hall’s name was added to the list of U.S. Navy men who were missing
  • Meredith Hall was declared dead in 1945 with burial at sea

Since the rosters place Meredith Hall aboard the U.S.S. Houston, the tale of the U.S.S. Houston adds more to the story of Meredith Hall’s death. Quoting from the Wikipedia article about the U.S.S. Houston,

On board Houston, shells were in short supply in the forward turrets, so the crew manhandled shells from the disabled number three turret to the forward turrets. Houston was struck by a torpedo shortly after midnight, and began to lose headway.[5] Houston‘s gunners had scored hits on three different destroyers and sunk a minesweeper, but she was struck by three more torpedoes in quick succession.[5] Captain Albert Rooks was killed by a bursting shell at 00:30, and as the ship came to a stop, Japanese destroyers moved in, machine-gunning the decks and men in the water. A few minutes later, Houston rolled over and sank.[5] Of the 1,061 aboard, 368 survived, including 24 of the 74-man Marine Detachment, only to be captured by the Japanese and interned in prison camps. Of 368 Navy and Marine Corps personnel taken prisoner, 77 (21%) died in captivity.

Aftermath

Houston‘s fate was not fully known by the world for almost nine months, and the full story of her last fight was not told until the survivors were liberated from prison camps at the end of the war.

The web page, The ‘Nightmare’ Night USS Houston Went Down, tells the story of that last night. A survivor has also shared his story: A Survivor’s Story: by David Flynn USN

I may never find an obituary for Meredith C. Hall. However, these various records and web pages help tell his story.

Meredith C. Hall was born on 3 Jun 1918 in Artesian, Sanborn, South Dakota, United States.

He lived in Diana Township, Sanborn, South Dakota, United States in 1920.1

He lived in Artesian, Sanborn, South Dakota, United States in 1930.2

Meredith served in the military aboard the U.S.S. Houston as a seaman 2nd class on 31 Dec 1939.3

He served in the military aboard the U.S.S. Houston as a seaman 2nd Class on 31 Mar 1940.4

He served in the military aboard the USS Houston as a seaman 2nd class on 30 Jun 1940.5

Meredith served in the military aboard the USS Houston as a seaman 2nd class on 24 Aug 1940.6

He served in the military aboard the USS Houston as a seaman 1st class in Dec 1940.7

He served in the military aboard the USS Houston as a seaman 1st class on 30 Sep 1941.8

Meredith served in the military aboard the USS Houston as a seaman 1st class on 31 Dec 1941.9

He served in the military aboard the USS Houston as a seaman 1st Class on 1 Mar 1942.10

The U.S.S. Houston was sunk on 1 Mar 1942 during the Battle of the Java Sea.

He appeared on causalty list as missing at sea on 15 May 1942.11

Meredith was missing at sea and declared dead on 15 Dec 1945 at the age of 27.12–14

ENDNOTES:

1. 1920 U.S. Census, Sanborn County, South Dakota, population schedule, Diana Township, Sanborn County, South Dakota, ED 220, Sheet 6B Image 4 of 7, family 39, Walter Hall; digital iamge, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 12 November 2021); NARA microfilm publicatin T625

2. 1930 U.S. Census, Sanborn County, South Dakota, population schedule, Artesian, Sanborn County, South Dakota, ED 56-2, Sheet 4B Image 8 of 12, family 117, Anna Hall; digital iamge, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 12 November 2021); NARA microfilm publication T626

3. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith Carrol Hall, 31 December 1939; database with imges, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 12 November 2021). Original Source: Muster Rolls of U.S. Navy Ships, Stations and Other Naval Activities.

4. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith Carrol Hall, 31 March 1940; .

5. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith Carrol Hall, 30 June 1940; .

6. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith C Hall, 24 August 1940; .

7. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith C Hall, 31 December 1940; .

8. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith C Hall, 30 September 1941; .

9. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith C Hall, 31 December 1941; .

10. World War II Navy Muster Rolls, 1938-1949, Meredith C Hall, 1 March 1942; .

11. “11 More S.D. Men In Navy Are Missing,” Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), 15 May 1942, page 5; digital image, Newspapers.com (www.newspapers.com : viewed online 12 November 2021).

12. American Battle Monuments Commission, Meredit C Hall, 15 December 1945; database, Fold3 (www.fold3.com : viewed online 12 November 2021). Original Source: American Battle Mounuments Commission.

13. World War II Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard Casualties, 1941-1945, Meredith Carrol Hall, databae with images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : viewed online 12 November 2021). Original Source: Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel.

14. , State Summary of War Casualties [South Dakota] U.S. Navy 1946 (N.p.: Navy Department, 1946), page 2; digital images, Fold3, http://www.fold3.com viewed online 13 November 2021.

U.S.S. Houston