Robert W. Ricketts
Robert W. Ricketts was born in Iowa on July 27, 1920, the son of Leonard L. and Maud D. Ricketts. He lived with his father, mother and two sisters, Helen and Elizabeth at 9 Dearborn Avenue, Rye, New York. His father was a circulation manager for Better Homes and Garden magazine and his mother was a homemaker.The family were members of the Rye Presbyterian Church. Robert graduated Rye High School in the class of 1939. He was a member the Rye Garnets Football team. His Senior quote was: “ Wit and Wisdom are born with a man. “
After graduating Robert worked as a clerk. At the outbreak of the war he enlisted and served in the US Navy. The Navy Muster Rolls have Robert being part of the crew aboard the U.S.S American Legion. also (See Enlistment Record). American Legion was formally transferred to the War Department for use as a United States Army transport on 19 December 1939 operating as USAT American Legion until transfer to the United States Navy 22 August 1941. The Navy commissioned the ship USS American Legion initially classifying the ship a transport with hull number AP-35. On 1 February 1943 the Navy reclassified the ship as an attack transport ( Harris class) with hull number APA-17.
Robert and the American Legion would take part in the Invasion of Guadalcanal. Assigned to Task Group "X-ray", ten attack transports and five attack cargo ships, American Legion proceeded thence to the Solomon Islands. On the morning of 7 August 1942, she went to general quarters at 05:45 and manned "ship to shore" stations fifteen minutes later. At 06:14, attending cruisers and destroyers opened fire on the beachheads, softening up the beaches for the impending landing. American Legion and USS Fuller soon landed the first troops to go ashore on Guadalcanal.
Robert and the American Legion also participated in the Invasion of Bougainville Troop and cargo runs then followed, between Auckland, New Zealand; Nouméa, New Caledonia; and Guadalcanal, before she put into Efate, in the New Hebrides, on 22 October 1943, in preparation for the invasion of Bougainville, Solomon Islands.
Arriving off Cape Torokina, Bougainville, on the morning of 1 November 1943, American Legion proceeded into the earmarked transport area in Empress Augusta Bay and anchored at 06:46. Japanese planes arriving in the vicinity prompted the ships to get underway, the transport's men observing Aichi D3A2 Type 99 "Val" carrier attack planes attacking nearby destroyers and losing two or three of their number in the process. "Zeke" (Mitsubishi A6M "Zero") fighters then strafed the beach area; sinking an LCPL from American Legion.
Following the landings, American Legion returned to the United States via Pago Pago, Samoa, and reached San Francisco on 8 December 1943, having traveled 83,140 nautical miles (153,980 km; 95,680 mi) since leaving New York the previous spring. She then underwent repairs at San Francisco into the spring of 1944. Amphibious warfare training ship
Departing San Francisco on 12 April 1944, American Legion proceeded to San Diego where she became part of the Transport Training Division, Amphibious Training, Pacific. Based at the Amphibious Training Case at Coronado, California, American Legion operated in the training capacity for the duration of World War II
After the war Robert married Dorothy S Wagner in June 1946. Together they would have four sons and move to East Islip, NY . Robert was a manager for General Electric for many years.
Robert W. Ricketts died on February 5, 1987, in Sumter, Florida, at the age of 66, and was buried in Leesburg, Florida.
At the time of his death he was survived by his wife, Dorothy W.; sons, Robert D., State College, Pa., Ronald, Leesburg, John, California, William, Omaha, Neb.; sisters, Elizabeth Brennan, Rye, N.Y., Mary Helen, Albuquerque, N.M.; and three grandchildren.