Finding PVT Ricard
by Circe Olson Woessner and Lynda Rood
This story has audio interview clips with it, please click on the bold to hear it. Each photo has an audio caption.
My Uncle, Arnauld Joseph Ricard Jr.
Around the time of my birthday, July 1st, and Jr.’s, July 5th ,2007,I started having dreams about Jr. He was asking me to find him. I got the scrapbooks out and gathered all the information I could from the newspaper clippings.
I started with Corregidor; though I would find out later, Jr. was never there. I have included the information about it with his history. The whole time I was working on the computer, I could hear Jr. telling me “find me girl” and ‘”You’re getting closer girl…”
When I got to the articles of Bataan and Cabanatuan, he said, “you found me.”
I found the “Air Corps on Line”, a list of survivors and their family members of Bataan. I wrote around 100 letters to these people and received a handful of responses. But, those responses brought me a lot of information, and they have helped me put together Jr.’s military history. I am very happy to know these men: Ben Steele, Bill Bartsch, Bill Templeton, and Andy Miller ( who died on June 8,2008). Mr. George Wallace of the Quan Magazine, who published my letter for help. Through this letter ,I was able to get to know J.D. Merrit, and through him, Edna “Hipockets” Binkowski, she was a Philipino spy for the Americans, and lastly, Martha Sell with the American Battle Monuments Commission for the cemetery in Manila, where Jr. is buried. I could not have done this without their help. I have found that these are very special people. I thank them all with all my heart.
Jr. joined the Army Air Corps in October 1940, according to his military file, and did his training at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. He went to California and then to Pearl Harbor where he was sent to the Philippines sometime before the Japanese bombed Pearl. I haven’t been able to find an exact time of his arrival at Bataan. He was a part of the 34st Pursuit Squadron, 24st Pursuit Group (interceptor, P-35). The 34st arrived on Bataan in November 1941. Jr. was sent to Del Carmen Field, Bataan, just south of Clark Air Field; then to Fort Stotsenburg, Bataan. His group fought off the Japanese invasion three different times before they were captured. The 24th Pursuit Group went from being interceptors to infantry after the Japanese had destroyed all of the planes. The 24th then became the 35th infantry, and has never been reinstated.
This group of men walked up the east side of Bataan, joining the “Death March” at Pilar, north to Abucay where they were joined up with the Philipino fighters. From there, they were marched to San Fernando where they were “stuffed like sardines”into train cars to Capas. From Capas, they marched to Camp O’Donnell, an air base captured by the Japanese turned into a prison camp.
During the march, our guys had very little to no food or water and many died along the way. The last man arrived at Camp O’Donnell about the 24th or 25th of April 1942.
The men were at Camp O’Donnell until the first week of June 1942. It was June 6th when the Japanese decided to move the American POW’s to Cabanatuan, another prison camp. Cabanatuan hospital was set up on June 5th or 6th 1942. Jr. died soon after getting to Cabanatuan. He was in camp #l and ended up in the “zero ward” in the hospital. This was for those who had no real chance of survival. Pvt. Arnauld Joseph Ricard, Jr. #17015370 died at 5:15pm on June 10,1942. He died of amoebic dysentery and was the 79th person to die after reaching Cabanatuan. Twenty one other men died the same day and were all buried together in the cemetery on the south side of the camp- Those who died the same day were and buried with Jr were:
Pfc. Densel R. Snyder 3:00am
Pfc. John Opgrand 3:30am
Sgt. Robert Hoffman 7:00am
Sgt. Robert David Train 7:30am
Corp.William F- Schmitz 8:00am
Pvt. Charles Hansford 8:15am
Pvt. Robert Shriver 8:30am.
S-Sgt. H.E. Brantley 10:00am
*Pfc. John F. Galdikas 10:30am
S-Sgt. Joseph D. Rose 11:00am
Pvt. Paul R. Basinger 12:20Pm
Pvt. J.R. Gavano USMC, 12:20Pm
*Pfc. David G. Borunda 12:30pm
Sgt. Harold Good 12:45Pm
T-Sgt Scott 1:45Pm
Corp E.H. Jefferies 4:00Pm
Capt. George L. Wood 4:45 Pm
S-Sgt. Clarence E. Franklin 5:00Pm
*Pvt. Claude Fleming, 6:00pm
Pvt. Earl Hamilton 8:00Pm
Pfc. Quinton Mansfield l1:50Pm
When the Americans came back to Bataan to free our guys from the prison camps in January 1945,the graves were dug up. Those that could be identified were sent home for burial; the others were reburied at the cemetery in Manila. It has taken me four years, it is now August 20ll,and I think I have gathered all
the information I can. As I find more, if I am able to, I will add it to this history–This is for you Uncle Jr., I hope to keep your memory alive
*From New Mexico