Plymouth County

Donald Rickabaugh




Was First Class Electrician Believed On U. S. Destroyer

According to word received word by the family here this morning, Don Rickabaugh, son of Mr. and Mrs. Pat Rickabaugh, died January 18, from the effects of an unspecified accident January 15, in line of duty while on
secret maneuvers with the United States Navy.

Mrs. Rickabaugh, the boy’s mother, was prostrated with grief and is under the care of Dr. C. V. Bowers.

No details of the accident have been received. When young Rickabaugh was in LeMars on furlough, he said that he had just been promoted to the grade of 1st Class Electrician, and that he expected to be transferred to the destroyer, Flusher. But the family does not know whether or not he was on that ship, for the maneuvers are being carried on under simulated war-time conditions, and no information is allowed to trickle through.

Nothing is known of the disposition of the body. Presumably the injured man was put into the sick-bay of his own ship, or transferred to a hospitalship. It is believed that the body will be taken to San Diego by a Navy tender.

Nothing is known of the nature of the accident, nor if there were any other victims. First intimation of the trouble was when the victim’s wife, whose home is in San Diego, received a radiogram via official channels informing
her of her husband’s serious injury, on January 15.

When he died, the Navy did not send a cablegram direct, but to the Navy yard, and a chaplain was sent to break the news.

The widow assumed that the family here had also been notified of the accident, and did not herself send a telegram. When the Navy chaplain told her of the fatal outcome, he also told her that none of the family except
her were being notified.

Plans for the funeral have been necessarily held in abeyance until the body is returned.

Besides the C. Rickabaugh family here, Donald is survived by his widow, and two children, a daughter Carolyn and a son Donald, one year old. The family expects, however, that the interment will be in LeMars.

First Class Electrician Don Rickabaugh was one of the Navy men who are honored receiving a 10-year certificate of perfect record. This means that in 10 years service, he did not have a single demerit against his record. This is very unusual as a demerit can be given for ____ nor things as
failing to salute an officer, or failing to pass an inspection of quarters.

Deceased was 28 years old at the time of his death and he had completed 10 years service. He had an unprecedented and service record was slated to promotion to 1st Class Electrician’s rating, and ____ in another 10 years, be able to retire on a pension suitable of high rating. He spent the early part of his life here and the news of his death was a shock to a number of LeMars residents who remember him.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, January 22, 1940


Mr. and Mrs. C. Rickabaugh, residing 235 First Avenue NE, received a message 
Friday stating their son, Donald Rickabaugh, had died the previous day. The 
news was conveyed by their daughter-in-law, Mrs. Donald Rickabaugh, who is 
residing in San Diego, Calif., and details were meager awaiting later 
reports. Two later messages received by the Rickabaugh family contain 
little additional information as to the cause of his death.

Naval officials notified Mrs. Donald Rickabaugh that her husband serving on 
one of the ships composing the Pacific fleet, had been injured in an 
accident while in the course of duty and later a second message arrived 
stating he had died.

Mrs. Rickabaugh had not seen her husband since the fleet sailed for foreign 
waters November 15, with the expectation of returning to harbor in San Diego 
sometime in April.

Donald Rickabaugh had served ten years and seven months in the Navy and was 
employed on board a naval vessel as a first class electrician. He had an 
excellent record for faithful service and performance of duty since the time 
of his enlistment.

Donald Rickabaugh was born in LeMars June 26, 1912, grew up here and 
attended the city schools, enlisting in the Navy when a youth of seventeen.

He was married in San Diego, Calif., in 1933, to Miss Annie Laurie Gaskins, 
who with two children, Caroline and Donald, survives him. His death is also 
mourned by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. C. Rickabaugh, and his brothers and 
sisters, Loren of this city, Perry of Sandusky, Ohio, Jack, Max, George and 
Dale, Madge and Patty at home, and Mrs. Leo Mack, of Sioux City.

The body will be returned to San Diego and from there will be brought to 
LeMars for interment within a couple of weeks according to information 
received yesterday by Mr. Rickabaugh. 

Source: The LeMars Sentinel, January 23, 1940

Military Funeral In LeMars On February Sixth

Members of the C. Rickabaugh family have received additional information on the death of Donald Rickabaugh while in active service in the U. S. Navy, and are planning a military funeral possibly Feb 7 or 8, depending on when
the body arrives. K Company will take part.

Before the body is shipped east, the United States Navy will also sponsor military services at San Francisco. The chaplain of the San Francisco Naval station will make these arrangements.

Considerable confusion has been caused by garbled reports printed in the Sioux City papers and given over the radio. The body is not being shipped to San Diego on a hospital ship, but was placed on board a regular passenger liner which will dock at San Francisco. All Naval communications were sent direct to the widow, who sent them on to her husband’s family here.

Additional details of the accident were sent to Mrs. Rickabaugh upon her request to the Pearl Harbor station. In a telegram, the commander stated that the accident happened while the destroyer, the Flusher, was taking on
lumber for repairs. A load of lumber was being lifted by a derrick in a sling, and when this load broke loose, Don Rickabaugh was caught underneath.

The kind of lumber often used in ships is much heavier than landsmen are used to, many of the timbers being 20 inches square, of heavy oak. Electrician Rickabaugh was caught under the load when it fell.

He was rushed at once to a hospital at Pearl Harbor, where it was seen at once that his condition was very serious. In addition to a fractured skull, he suffered fracture of the third, fourth and fifth ribs, fracture of both pubic bones, a broken right thigh bone, injuries to the spinal cord, and
numerous lacerations and bruises.

Having just successfully passed the examination for promotion to the grade of electrician, first class, young Rickabaugh was transferred to the destroyer, the Flusher, from another ship of the same kind, the McDougall.

At the hospital, the victim at first showed signs of improvement, and his mind was clear. He asked that a reassuring message be sent to his wife. The next day, however, he succumbed.

After the Naval services at San Francisco, Mrs. Rickabaugh will accompany the body to LeMars. Her two children, Caroline, 4, and Donald, 1, are just getting over the measles, and can not make the trip. They will be left in
care of a neighbor until she returns home.

Other survivors, besides the sorrowing parents, are six brothers: Loren, Jack, Max, George and Dale, LeMars; Perry, of Sandusky, Ohio; three sisters, Patricia, at home; Mrs. Melba Mack of Sioux City; and Madge, of Sioux City.

Source: LeMars Globe-Post, January 25, 1940

Body of Young Sailor To Be Returned To His Home

Further particulars of the tragic death of Donald Rickabaugh, 28, LeMars youth, who died in the discharge of his duties while serving in the Navy, as related in the last issue of the Sentinel, were received Tuesday by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. C. Rickabaugh, of this city.

The accident happened aboard the Flusser, a warship, which had anchored at Pearl Harbor, Hawaiian Islands, to make repairs.

While engaged in work Rickabaugh was crushed under a falling timber. The extent of his injuries precluded recovery although he lived three days after being conveyed to a hospital. The accident happened on January 15 and he
died on January 18.

The impact of the heavy timber practically crushed out his life. He suffered head injuries and fracture of several ribs on his right side, his left leg broken at the thigh, and the spinal cord was severed. He retained consciousness to the end.

Return Body to Native Land

In a letter to the Rickabaugh family here, Mrs. Don Rickabaugh, living in San Diego, Calif., said she had been notified by Naval authorities that the body of her husband would be returned to the United States and would arrive
in San Francisco on the return of the fleet February 2.

Under tentative arrangements the body will arrive in LeMars February 6, where the final rites will be held and the youth accorded full Naval honors.

Mrs. Don Rickabaugh will accompany the body of her husband to LeMars.

She will be unable to bring their children, Caroline and Donald, with her as they are at present recovering for an attack of measles.

Source: LeMars Sentinel, 
January 26, 1940