Jane Rickert, 92, holds up the shirt she received from the Veteran Honor Flight program on her trip to Washington, D.C. in 2009. (Staff photo/John Bush )
Sitting in a wheelchair in her room at The Gardens, 92-year-old Jane Rickert leafs through page after page of pictures, memorabilia and newspaper clippings she had collected over the years. She then wheels herself over to the closet where she has kept the military uniform she wore more than 70 years ago. She pulls it out, explaining what the various patches on the uniform stand for.
“Can you believe I kept all this stuff for so many years?” she asks through a smile that beams with pride as she remembers that 21-year-old kid she used to be who decided to join the military during World War II. “It was a different time back then.”
The year was 1943. As the war raged across the globe, Rickert was working at the Wapakoneta Daily News as a society editor writing about everything from obituaries to local card games. While she was there, she remembers recruiters relentlessly trying to get people to sign up for the war effort. Eventually she decided it was time to do her part.
On her 21st birthday, Rickert signed up for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) and was sent to Daytona Bach, Fla., for basic training. During her time there, she can recall seeing the Atlantic Ocean swarming with the enemy.
“The ocean was filled with German ships around the area where we were,” Rickert said. “It was rather frightening, but we had to learn to live in that kind of climate.”
After basic training, Rickert was sent to Camp Edwards, Mass. to replace a soldier who was shipped overseas. Since she had newspaper experience, Rickert was assigned to write for the camp newspaper that was published once a week. After a year, she asked to be transferred.
“I did not want to spend another winter in New England,” she said.
Rickert then went to cryptographic school in Ft. Monmouth, N.J. where she learned to receive and type coded messages.
For the full story, see the Thursday, Aug. 7 edition of the Wapakoneta Daily News.