I recently wrote about Ernest Eugene Ricketts who was captured while serving for the U.S. Navy, help prisoner at Cabannatun and rescued by the Army Rangers. However, there is another side to his story — and that is her story.
Ernest Rickett married Alice Mok on September 20, 1937 in Shanghai, China.
Ernest Rickett was called back to active service in October 1940 leaving behind his wife Alice along with their three young children. In March 1942, Ernest Rickett was reported missing in action. In October 1942, Ernest Rickett was imprisoned at Cabannatun. In January, 1945, Ernest and about 500 other prisoners were rescued. By March 1945, Ernest was back in Iowa, while his wife and children were still in China.
So far, I haven’t found any newspaper articles about the arrival of Alice and her children in the United States. However, there is a 1959 article about the family that indicates they arrived in 1946. There is a short article on the front page of the 13 Nov 1946 Hedrick Journal which indicates the family had purchased a house in Hedrick.
Mrs. Ernest Rickett and family have moved into the property they recently purchased which is located on North Main street and which was formerly occupied by the Aben Swanstrom family. Mrs. Ricketts is glad of an opportunity to live in her husband’s hometown and to know his relatives and friends. Ricketts is still confined to the Navy hospital.“Local news,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 18 November 1946, page 1; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 17 November 2021).
In December 1946, Mrs. Ricketts visited her husband at the Great Lakes Naval hospital.
Mrs. Ernest Rickett returned Sunday after a few days spent with her husband who is in the Great Lakes Naval hospital. Rickett’s condition is somewhat improved.“Local news,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 18 December 1946; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 17 November 2021).
Ernest Rickett died 18 Jan 1947 leaving behind his wife, Alice and their 3 children: Margaret, Ernest and Pauline.
In November 1948, Alice and her children moved to Mount Pleasant, Iowa.
Interesting newcomers from Hedrick, are the Alice Rickett family who have purchased the Lee Courtney property here. Mrs. Rickett is a native of China and her three children: Margret, Ernest and Paulne, al were born in China prior to world War II. Their father, an American, a former resident of Hedrick, is now deceased.“Local Happenings,” The Mount Pleasant News (Mount Pleasant, Iowa), 22 November 1948, page 3; digial images, Southeast Iowa Advantage-Preservation (seiowa.advantage-preservation : viewed online 17 November 2021).
In July 1949, Alice Mok Rickett took the exam to become a naturalized citizen. Alice Rickett was naturalized on 19 Sep 1949 in Ottumwa, Iowa.
Alice Rickett Widow of Ernest Rickett veteran of World war 2 had a thrilling experience September 19th when she became a citizen of the United States of America. A native of China, she and her children, Margaret, Ernest Jr. and Pauline, came to this country to join Chief M. M. Ernest Rickett following the close of World War II. The arrived at Hedrick, Iowa where relatives gave them a warm welcome. Then it was that Alice Rickett applied for naturalization papers in Wapello county. She took the written examinations July 29th and it was a happy day for her and her American citizen children when she received notice to appear at the Post Office building in Ottumwa for the final proceeding. with seven other persons she was presented a certificate of citizenship following an impressive address by a member of the American Legion — it was a dramatic moment in Alice Rickett’s life when, by a member of the D.A.R. she was presented a small American Flag. How did you feel at that moment, we asked Alice, and she quickly answered, “Like a million — I am proud to be a citizen of the United States of America.”“Around Town and Countryside,” The Mount Pleasant News (Mount Pleasant, Iowa), 8 October 1949, page 6; digial images, Southeast Iowa Advantage-Preservation (seiowa.advantage-preservation : viewed online 17 November 2021).
Thanks to another user of the FamilySearch tree, I was able to quickly locate the ‘Petition for Naturalization’ of Alice Mok Rickett.
United States of America
Petition for Naturalization
[Of a Married Person, under Sec. 310(a) or(b), 311 or 312, of the Nationality Act of 1940 (54 Stat. 1144-1145)]
To the Honorable the United States District southern District Court of Iowa at Ottumwa, Iowa
This petition for naturalization, hereby made and filed pursuant to Section 310 of the Nationality Act of 1940, respectfully shows:
(1) My full, true, and correct name is Alice Mok Rickett
(2) My present place of residence is 306 E. Clay, Mt Pleasant, Henry County, Iowa. (3) My occupation is housekeeper
(4) I am 43 years old. (5) I was born on December 23, 1905 in Provin of Kwong Tse, China
(6) My personal description is as follows: Sex: Female; Color Oriental: complexion Medium, color of eyes Dk Brown, color of hair black, height 5 feet 1 inches, weight 110 pounds; visible distinctive marks mole on chin; race Chinese; present nationality Chinese
(7) I was married; the name of my husband was Ernest E. Rickett; we were married on September 20, 1937 at shanghai, China; he was born at Hedrick, Keokuk County, Iowa on Dec. 19, 1895
entered the United States at XXX on XX for permanent residence in the United States, and now resides at
deceased January 18 1947 and was naturalized on XXX at XXX
certificate No XX; or became a citizen by birth in the United States
(8) I have three children; and the name, sex, date and place of birth, and present place of residence of each said children who is living, are as follows:
Margaret (f) Dec. 2,1933, Hankow, China, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
Ernest (m) March 12, 1936, Hankow, China, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
Pauline (f) Sept. 11, 1940, Shanghai, China, Mt. Pleasant, Iowa
(9) My last place of foreign residence was Shanghau, China (10) I emigrated to the United States form Shanghai, China
(11) My lawful entry for permanent residence in the United States was at San Francisco, Calif under the name of Alice Nok Rickett on June 2, 1946 on the SS Gen J. C. Breckenbridge as shown by the certificate of my arrival attached to this petition.
(12) Since my lawful entry for permanent residence I have not been absent from the United States, for a period or periods of 6 months or longer, as follows:
(18) I have resided continuously in the United States of America for the term of three years at least immediately preceding the date of this petition, to wit: since June 2, 1946
(19) I have not heretofore made petition for naturalization
Signed: Alice Mok RickettIowa Naturalization Records, 1859-1990, Alice Mok Rikett, 2 June 1946; database with images, FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org : viewed online 17 November 2021).
In 1959, Alice Rickett’s visit to Iowa was chronicled in the article, “Ernest Rickett Would Have Been Proud of His Family.”
Ernest Rickett Would Have Been Proud of His Family
Mrs. Ernest Rickett, now of Fullerton, Calif., is visiting friends and relatives in this community, and her youngest daughter, Pauline, who is enrolled as a freshman at the state University of Iowa, this fall.
Mrs. Rickett, a native of China, formerly lived in Hedrick, having come form China in 1946 with her three children to join her husband, Ernest, who had been freed from a Japanese prison camp, in the Philippine a few months earlier. Rickett met his wife in China, while serving with the U.S. Navy.
The family moved to Hedrick in the fall and the children entered school. However, Mr Rickett became ill and only lived five months after the arrival of his family. He died in a Naval hospital in Illinois, a victim of tuberculosis, which he had contracted in the prison camp.
The family lived in Hedrick about two years, before moving to Mt. Pleasant, where the two older children, Margaret and Ernest, graduated from high school with high honors. Margaret graduated from the State University three years ago, having maintained a high average, serving in several offices, and was vie-president of the Motor Board. She is now employed in the data processing division of I.B.M. in Long Beach, Calif., and lives with her mother.
Ernest attended Grinnel college one year, having received a scholarship, and transferred to State University, graduating in 1958. He enlisted in the Navy and is now at Officer’s Candidate School in the east.
Pauline, the youngest, graduated from Fullerton high school in California as an honor student. She received a scholarship to the University of California, but preferred to come to Iowa as the others had graduated here.
Mrs. Ricketts is employed as a dietitian’s aid in the Veterans Administration hospital near her home. She has attended Adult Education classes, and paints as a hobby. She owns her home, dries a car, and with her family are typical Americans, having made the best of the opportunities which are offered to the family on one who gave his life for his country.“Ernest Rickett Would Have Been Proud of His Family,” Hedrick Journal (Hedrick, IA), 7 October 1959, page 1; digital images, Advantage-Preservation (hedrick.advantage-preservation.com : viewed online 16 November 2021).
Ernest Rickett’s story is not complete without also knowing his wife’s story.