Dickinson County

Clarence Ritchey






Three Arnolds Park-Okoboji youths have arrived home in the last few days to spend 30 days with relatives and friends. Two of them came for the first time in three years., in fact for the first time since they went away to war – Richard (Dick) Alexander, and Clarence Ritchey. The third is Keith Doss, who had been with them for considerable time.

Being home is something extra grand, they all say, although their friends are congratulating them on the decorations they are wearing. For instance, Richard and Clarence have nine battle stars and wear the ribbons of three theaters of war.

They’re pretty proud, too, of their battle wagon. It has done a lot of prowling around the Pacific ocean in the last few years, since the Japs thought they disposed of it at Pearl Harbor. She may be an old lady, but she’s got plenty of fight in her yet, says the youths.

Richard wears a silver star that represents five bronze ones for a battle apiece, and four bronze ones that he may swap for a silver one after the next battle. He also brought home a much-traveled and wear-stained certificate to prove he has crossed the equator with the proper ceremonies. Henceforth it is to travel no more, because it will be in a frame in the home of his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Jap Alexander, in Okoboji. The certificate has been traveling with Richard since November, 1942.

Richard is a gunner on the battleship and has found it highly satisfactory to be on the ship lying offshore and bombarding the islands to soften up and protect the arrival there of troops. He took part in the now-famous battle of the Philippine sea. It was the biggest thrill of all to see the Japanese ships coming into the sea and into the American trap. It was a little like shooting ducks in a gallery.

The youths also took part in the opening of the Okinawa campaign and had a first-hand experience with the Japanese suicide bombers although they are not saying much about that.

The battle stars represented include Tarawa, the Marshalls, Saipan, Peleliu, Leyte, Tinian, the Admiralty Islands, the Philippine sea and Okinawa. Not bad, for an old lady left for sunk by the Japs Dec. 7, 1941!

Although the men on a battleship almost never get to port, they were privileged a time or two to visit a spot long enough to see palm trees growing, get some fresh coconuts and pick oranges and find out what the natural flavor is like. They also had plenty of bananas right off the trees.

Food on a battleship is as good as food comes. They had good food all of the time and every Sunday had fried chicken and ice cream. There was a soda fountain on board. K-rations are the battle rations, but they aren’t bad, not bad at all, the youths admit.

One reason Alexander is glad to be home, which he thinks is the finest spot he’s yet visited in [Page 8] his three-year tour, is that he can spend his birthday at home. He will be 20 years old July 6. He left home just before school was out when he was 17, so a birthday at home will be an event.

Both he and Ritchey went together and were trained at the naval base in San Diego. They have been together through the entire three years. Doss joined them about a year ago.

They will be heading back for the west coast in time to report July 23.

Source: The Milford Mail, Milford, Iowa, Thursday, June 28, 1945, Pages 1 & 8