Like so many in his generation, Arthur Ricker was a teenage volunteer.
He was only 19 years old when he and his brother left their farm in Greene County and traveled to Johnson City to enlist in World War 2.
The year was 1940, and they hoped by volunteering, they could get a good assignment.
“I didn’t know anything about patriotism,” Ricker remembered. “We just figured it was what we were supposed to do.”
But instead of a “good assignment,” Ricker was assigned to the U.S. Army Fourth Infantry Division as a combat engineer.
“Our objective was mines and booby traps and all the obstacles they put in front of you to slow you down,” he said. Because he was handy with a gun, Ricker was made sharpshooter and posted on the front of the boat as his division landed on Utah Beach in the D-Day Invasion.
“I didn’t know what combat was all about,” he said. “But I knew you could get killed.”
“My best friend got killed standing near me,” Ricker said. “I know God was with me. And he brought me back home.”
But before that could happen, he and the Fourth Infantry marched to Paris and then to Germany, straight toward the Nazi’s.
He survived the Battle of the Bulge, and Arthur Ricker was among the first inside Dachau, the concentration camp where Jews and political prisoners were slaughtered.
“I have had some nightmare over those things. But really I can’t see how humanity could do what they did.”
“I have had thoughts about Adolph Hitler,” Ricker said. “I say hell was too good for him.”
After the war, Ricker came home, married his sweetheart Edith, had a big family, and built a life.
“I know my mother’s prayers were answered because her two sons got back home, and I give all praise and honor to God.”
News Channel 11 is working to preserve the stories of surviving World War 2 veterans. If you know a story that needs to be told, contact email@example.com .