By Jennifer Martin
"Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name."
It's just a small part of Psalm 91. A passage in the bible Troy Ricks held dear during World War II.
"I should have been killed 5 times."
When he thinks back on his many near death experiences, the Psalm always comes to mind. Like during his first days in the pacific, where he earned his bronze star.
"There was two machine guns holding up a company, crossfiring and that company couldn't move and they sent me and my platoon. We were crawling to get through the Jap lines without them shooting and one of those machine guns turned and a burst of machine gun hit right in front of my face."
The company rested only 3 days, before the soldiers were called back to take another company's place.
"I asked the company commander where are the Japs. He said they're not until you get to the front ridge. So I waved my scout like that (telling him) the way to go and bullet hit me right there."
The incident saved his life in more ways than one.
"When I went to the hospital, one of my officers and a squad of men was lost. They never did find the officer. They found some of the men and their fingernails were missing."
From the hospital, he traveled through Leyte on to the mountains of Luzon in the north Phillipines.
"We hit what they called the Ville Verde trail. It was 11 miles long. It took us 119 days to take that 11 (miles). We killed over 9,000 Japs and we lost 400 officers. We had to dig them out of the mountains. They had machine guns in their caves, looking right down our throat. Out of my whole company, I only brought out 35 men out of nearly 200 in the company and we lost contact with the Japs."
The Japanese had pulled out and moved farther north. What was left of Ricks' company was ordered to find them. While he was up in the mountains, he got a message from the division commander. "Cease all hostilities. The Japanese have surrendered unconditionally. 30 minutes later, I get a message from my battalion commander, push on vigorously. I told him where he could go."
He was court martialed. But the results were not what the commander expected.
"I got a superior rating and was given another company and they sent me off to search the Japs as they come out."
He then went on to serve with the occupational troops in Japan. He nearly lost his life on the way.
"We hit a typhoon. A wave come up. They had a rope all the way around the ship about this size. I caught it with both arms and legs. My back was out toward the ocean."
He stayed in Japan about 5 months, before he was able to go home.
"I was just glad to be alive."
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