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Monday, July 22, 2024

WWII Veteran Turns 100

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Contributed article by Scott County VSO James Reid

On July 13, 2021, a Scott County World War II veteran will turn 100 years old.

Winston Rice was born July 13, 1921, in Waldron, Arkansas. In fact, Rice still lives at the homestead where he was born. The original home was replaced in the early 1930s. His parents, both Waldron natives, Winston Rice Senior, and his mother, Thelma Davis Rice. His father was born on what’s known today as Whippoorwill Lane and his mother was born at the very same homestead where Rice currently resides. 

Rice was married to his late wife Wanda (Kopf) Rice and the couple had one son, Roger Rice. Additionally, two grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Rice was a construction worker from 1947 up until 2005 when he officially retired at the age of 84. His hobbies include being outside and gardening.

Rice entered the US Navy on July 17, 1942, where he attended basic training at Norfolk, Virginia, and then attended the Naval Construction Training Center at Davisville, Rhode Island. He reported to the USS Kenmore in NAVSTA Norfolk, Virginia upon completion of his training. He sailed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, then through the Panama Canal and reaching Noumea, New Caledonia on November 11, 1942.

His Seabee Battalion was part of Task Force 62 serving with the Second Marine Division where on December 3, 1942, disembarked troops and cargo on a beach east of Togoma Point, Guadalcanal. Rice then went to Wellington, New Zealand, where his unit resupplied and headed to Tarawa. At Tarawa, his unit began bringing in their heavy equipment, even though the fighting was not over, and begin leveling and grading the airstrip that was renamed “Hawkins Field,” after the Marines had captured the island.  

Rice then went onto Hawaii where his unit helped with the construction of camp Tarawa located on the Big Island located in-between the two great volcanoes, “Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. He then headed to Saipan where after seven hours and 32 minutes of the battle beginning he was offloading supplies so the front lines could keep advancing. Once the Marines had taken the island of Saipan they then moved towards the island of Tinian roughly two and a half miles away. Rice again would be in harm’s way with moving supplies ashore. After the Marines had captured both Saipan and Tinian, he spent close to a year at Tinian where he would refuel planes from 2200 to 0600. Rice would conclude his military service in Tinian.  

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Winston Rice for his service to our country, and wish him a very happy birthday!

Winston Rice

 

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