|Birth: ||Dec. 4, 1892|
|Death: ||Oct. 24, 1944, At Sea|
Ray Wood Pickering was from Parkersburg, Wood County, West Virginia. He entered the armed forces from the State of Colorado. Ray was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and was sent to the Philippines to serve with Company B, 1st Battalion, of the 4th Marines.
Ray served with dignity in the Philippines, but he was captured as a prisoner of war when the islands fell into enemy hands in 1942 and the remaining troops were forced to surrender. Ray was held as a prisoner of war in the Philippines for two years. While being transported to Japan on the Arisan Maru, Ray lost his life on October 24, 1944 when the unmarked ship was torpedoed by an Allied submarine in the South China Sea. His death was received by the War Department on June 16, 1945.
Ray was awarded the Purple Heart and his body was buried at sea. In recognition of his honorable service in World War II, and for his ultimate sacrifice, Ray Wood Pickering's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, and Ray's was one of the original names inscribed on the West Virginia Veterans Memorial. (Written by Pennsylvania Lady)
Ramon Wood "Ray" Pickering was the son of Henry O. Pickering/Pickring and Anna Bell "Annie" Davis. Some records show Ray was born in West Virginia but he was actually born in Olive, Meigs County Ohio, close to the Ohio/West Virginia border. His parents however, married in Jackson County, West Virginia, in 1883.
Ray joined the United States Marine Corps on August 7, 1915 at Denver, Colorado. After he completed his boot camp training at Parris Island, South Carolina, Ray's first duty station was at the Marine Barracks, Cavite Naval Station, Cavite, Philippines. Marine assignments overseas to the Philippine Islands or China was very desirable and was even a recruiting enticement as the years passed. Young Marines could live very well on the economy of these two destinations. Ray would serve in "The PI" all during World War I. In March, 1919, he was re-assigned to Mare Island, California, for duty at that station. After Mare Island he was sent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York and by August of 1927 he was a supply sergeant. In February 1928, he was on board USS HENDERSON, headed for Chinwangtao, China, assigned to Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Third Brigade, Tientsin, China. Within months, he was back at his old station at Cavite, Philippines. After 15 years of various stateside duty stations with over five years at the Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Virginia, once again Ray received orders to the Philippines, this time to the Marine Barracks, Naval Station, Olongapo, Philippines. Ray was glad to be back in the Philippines again, but his happiness would be short lived.
In late November of 1941, the 4th Marine Regiment was ordered out of China due to the growing number of Japanese troops in the region. They were sent to the Philippines to shore up a manpower shortage on the Naval Bases in preparation for a believed attack by Japanese forces. a week after that, war came to the Philippine Islands when Japanese aerial bombardments began and troops landed to invade the island. Ray was assigned to B Company, Fourth Marines. As Philippine cities and towns fell under Japanese control, the US troops fighting them fell back to Bataan and Corregidor. After Bataan fell, only Corregidor remained as a bastion of democracy and freedom.
The 4th Marine regiment was basically the fighting unit at Corregidor. It had enlarged to a fourth battalion and not only was made up of Chine and Cavite Marines, but also sailors Army and Army Air Corps personnel. The fighters held on valiantly, waiting for resupply and reinforcements, but neither every came. General Douglas MacArthur left by PT boat to Australia with his staff and roughly half of the female Army/Army Air Corps female nurses, leaving everyone else behind. On May 6, 1942, the commander of the Corregidor forces, General Jonathan Wainwright, US Army, surrendered to the Japanese forces to save the lives of those remaining. In the ensuing days the prisoners were taken south to an area known as the "92nd Garage" where they were assembled for a period of time before being assigned to their camps. Many men died on the way or while waiting at the 92nd Garage from exhaustion, wounds or illness.
An excerpt from the book by former Fourth Marine Sergeant Major Charles R. Jackson, USMC (Retired/Deceased) describes an incident between Pickering and the death of his friends, George Case after the Allied forces surrendered at Corregidor and had arrived at the their POW camp:
"(I)n the same squad with me marched Master Gunnery Sergeant George B. Case, a veteran of World War I and the 2nd Division of those days (the Marine Battalion in World War I was attached to the Army 2nd Infantry Division), a companion in the same battalion of the 4th Marines in Bataan and Corregidor. He had come through unwounded but with a severe case of unchecked malaria. I could see that the heat was beginning to affect old George. He was often urged to fall out; others had done so and no one had been shot (many POW's were summarily executed during the Bataan Death March for falling to the wayside due to wounds, exhaustion or illness while others were simply loaded onto a truck)...he refused to take a chance, and on his arrival in camp he went out of his head. A Japanese officer thought Case's clutching grasp to support himself on "Old Pick", Marine Quarter Master Sergeant Pickering (Ray Wood Pickering), was an attempt to start a fight, and he ordered his guards to use their rifle butts and slug him down. It might have not hurt a healthy man very badly, but for Master Gunnery Sergeant George B. Case it was fatal."
SgtMaj Jackson goes on to say that when they buried Case, QMSgt Pickering "gave him (Case) his blanket, with the letters USMC on it, for a burial shroud...the act of a true Marine". This death and subsequent burial was at Camp #3 at Cabanatuan. Case's remains could not be located after the war. To this day, the location of the remains of Master Guns Case and many other victims of the brutal treatment they received at the hands of the Japanese soldiers have never been found. Their earthly shells locations are known only to God but are listed on the Tablets of the Missing at Manila American Cemetery, Manila, Philippines.
Old Pick survived POW camp life at Cabanatuan but disease amongst the prisoners was rampant: Dysentery, beri-beri, malaria, malnutrition, open sores and more and he was not immune to these problems and had lost a great deal of weight. He had been there for two years and saw many old friend die. In October of 1944 many of the POW's were loaded onto a Japanese "Hell Ship" named the Arisan Maru. These were freighters that had been contracted to transport Japanese supplies and in this case, Allied POW's from the Philippines to Japan where they would be sent to labor camps. While in route, a United States submarine spotted the unmarked ship and believing it to hold supplies or Japanese troops, torpedoed it. The ship broke in half with the front hald remaining afloat for a short while. The Japanese had cut the ropes and shut the hatches on the cargo holds were they were kept in grounded, unsanitary quarters. eventually a few of the troops were able to get up on deck and threw ropes down the now open hatches to allow others to get out of the cargo holds. Some jumped overboard and tried to swim to a Japanese destroyer that had been running as escort for the freighter but those prisoners were hit with long poles and were not saved by the Japanese. Approximately 1782 POW's had been on that ship but only a handful survived. The total death count was believed to have been 1,778. "Old Pick, was one of the POW's who died that day on the Arisan Maru. His body of course, was not recovered and to this day he lies at the bottom of the ocean with his friends and other POW's, waiting to be found.
Ol' Pick was posthumously promoted to Second Lieutenant after the war ended.
Second Lieutenant Ray Wood Pickering, Sn# 10491, earned the following badges/decorations for his service in the United States Marine Corps during World War I and World War II:
- Purple Heart Medal
- Combat Action Ribbon
- Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
- Marine Corps China Service Medal
- Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal with 5th Award
- Prisoner of War Medal
- American Defense Service Medal with "Base" clasp
- Asiatic/Pacific Theater of Operations Campaign Medal with one bronze battle/campaign star
- World War I Victory Medal
- World War II Victory Medal
- Army Presidential Unit Citation with oak leaf device
- Philippine Defense Medal with Bronze Battle Star
- Philippine Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon
Henry O Pickering (1861 - 1931)
Anna Bell Pickering (1863 - 1945)
Ruth V. Pickering Gaston (1932 - 2007)*
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial
National Capital Region, Philippines
Plot: Tablets of the Missing
Maintained by: Rick Lawrence
Originally Created by: CWGC/ABMC
Record added: Aug 08, 2010
Find A Grave Memorial# 56777179
In honored remembrance of your valiant service and ultimate sacrifice for our great Nation during World War II. May it not have been in vain. SEMPER FIDELIS!|
Rick Lawrence, MSgt., USMC/USAFR (RET)
Added: Feb. 19, 2016
Honoring your Service and Sacrifice. May you rest in peace.|
Added: Feb. 17, 2016
Ray Wood Pickering was from Parkersburg, Wood County, West Virginia. He entered the armed forces from the State of Colorado. Ray was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and was sent to the Philippines to serve with Company B, 1st Battalion, of the 4th Marine...(Read more)|
Added: Feb. 28, 2011