When I was 9 years old, I lived in the great state of Minnesota and I attended Lincoln Elementary School in Anoka, MN. My best friend in elementary school at that time was Donald Rick.
His father was Eugene Merlyn Rick, United States Army Sergeant First Class. Rick was Airborne trained and assigned to Company B, 2nd Battalion, 503rd Regiment with the Airborne Battle Group. In 1965, May, his unit was deployed to southern South Viet Nam as one of the units in the first major military build up of the Viet Nam War after President Johnson became President. He was killed in Viet Nam on 10 October, 1965.
We were told that he had been with his unit on patrol on a trail, something you should never do in Viet Nam at that time. He stepped on a “bouncing betty” booby trap mine that was designed to spring up to waist level, explode and maim, not kill outright, so that other troops then had to assist the incapacitated, wounded man and that decreased the effectiveness of the unit. The bottom half of his body was blown up and he bled to death laying on a trail in the jungle. That was the story we were told. I believe it was a closed casket funeral.
I will always, always remember the terrible sadness of my best friend’s father being killed. We lived in the same apartment building as the Ricks, on the second floor, right across the hall from each other. His death was this ghastly, unspeakable horror that cast a psychological pall over the apartment building for months after. I could feel it! It changed me permanently. It became part of me. A few feet away from our front door was where I stood when my mother told me that John Kennedy had been killed. That changed me, too. Both of these deaths had a profound impact on me.
I remember S. F. C. Rick came home on leave once. He wore his uniform. To me he was this larger than life kind of powerful, God- like person. And yet he was so tired. He slept a lot. He kept falling asleep on their couch and sprawling out. We mere children just quietly, slowly, carefully walked by him when he was sleeping. I only got to talk to him a little. Then, suddenly he was gone. A few months later we got the news. He was dead. And my friend grew up from about 9 years old without his father.
Remembering S. F. C. Eugene Merlyn Rick on this and every Memorial Day… forever. Salute! Present arms! Fire 3 times by 7! Crack of rifle shots! 21! Receive the folded tri- corner flag from a grateful nation. The dead are dead forever.
When I go to Washington D. C., I do what a lot of Americans do. I go to the Viet Nam War Memorial wall. I find his name and even tho I have never served even a day in the military, I stand at attention and salute, say a prayer and think of that time in 1965 and what happened 55 years ago. I will remember, always remember. How can I forget? And I never, ever want to forget. It is my duty. Wall panel 2E, Line 117.
EUGENE MERLYN RICK
PANEL / LINE
DATE OF BIRTH
PR & MR UNKNOWN
DATE OF CASUALTY
HOME OF RECORD
COUNTY OF RECORD
BRANCH OF SERVICE