August 30, 1944
Dear Lieutenant Hall,
I am Morris Rickenbach’s brother-in-law, and since his
mother is as yet
unable to concentrate on writing a letter, I am taking this opportunity to
answer your letter for her.
It is impossible to find words to show our appreciation for
enlightening and beautiful letter. There is little anyone can do to heal the
wound that Rick’s passing has inflicted on his mother and father and the rest
of us who knew and loved him, but the message of condolence that you and
others, who served in the same company with him, have sent or delivered in
person to us have been like a soothing salve that has helped us more than any
of you will ever know to bear the sorrow which his passing has brought to us.
If you are ever in this vicinity and have
the opportunity to pay us a
visit, please do not hesitate to do so. It may be of interest to you to know
that so far we have had the pleasure of seeing Lieutenant Collier, Dick
Grewelle, Dennis O’Leary, Russell Dickinson, and Joe Wojnowski. The latter
hitch-hiked all the way from Elizabeth, N.J., to bring Rick’s mother his
identification tags and a religious medal he had been wearing.
All these gestures of friendship and kindness, we can
never hope to
repay. All we can do is thank you- - - thank you all from the bottom of our
hearts, and pray that God will watch over and protect all of you.
P.S. Your letter to
Rick’s mother and father was addressed to Camden,
New York, instead of Camden, New Jersey.
the memory of his friend, PHM1C Joe Wojnowski
My dad never talked about the war as I was growing up until after my Mom
passed in 1973. Maybe a tragic and early death brings back these terrible
memories in one's life. The story was almost always the same one about when
he landed on the beach of Normandy.
I believe his ship landed on the 3rd wave and this is how the story went: the
beach was deserted except for Dr. Hall, Rickenbach and Dad. They were walking very slowly in a straight line, Dr. Hall led, Dad was next and then
Rickenbach. They were oblivious to their surroundings, maybe it was fatigue,
maybe it was shock, when suddenly Dr. Hall realized that there was shelling
going on all around them. He yelled to Dad "run Wojo." They started to
and Dad turned to yell to Rickenbach to hurry but when he turned around,
Rickenbach was hit and his body exploded right then. Every time he told me
this story, it was like I was hearing it for the first time because he would
just stare straight ahead and included every detail as though he were
reliving it. I could see in my head the whole thing playing out as though I
was actually there. And that's all he would say about that incident. The
story ended there.
In the early 1990s, Dad told me he had a strong desire to visit Rickenbach's
grave site. I did some research and found out that he was buried in a
Burlington County, NJ cemetery by the name of Beverly National Cemetery. It's
about an hour and a half from our home. That started our yearly ritual. On
June 6th of every year that was to follow, Dad and I would go and visit
Morris Rickenbach, Jr. at section F, grave # 1560 at the Beverly Cemetery.
Mr. Rickenbach's date of death was June 6, 1944. We continued that ritual
until the year Dad couldn't walk anymore.
My Dad enlisted in the Navy on January 10, 1942 until December 10, 1945. He
was a Pharmacist's Mate First Class. I hope this helps you Ken. And if you
ever get a chance, would you send that letter from Rickenbach to Dad.