Page 3 - OCT RAPNEWS 2017
P. 3

by Dr. Patsy L. Barber

Let’s begin with some definitions first: Office of Strategic Services
(information gathering) created on June 13, 1942 under the
leadership of William J. Donovan functioned as the principal U.S.
intelligence organization in all WWII theaters for the rest of the war.

Roy Rickerson, honored citizen of Alexandria who spent his early
years in Coushatta and later in Bossier City working for the L&A
Railway Co. He was assigned to Special Recon (OSS) Operations
Group in Europe and China theaters

I interviewed Roy Rickerson on his covered patio in May 1997.
Recommendation to interview him came from all corners. I was
transported to scenes of WWII activities that I was unaware
existed. The cleverest fiction cannot match Rickerson’s
experiences. I quote him hereafter.

“I tried to enlist in the Marines but was too short. My draft number     ROY RICKERSON IN A PHOTO TAKEN IN FRANCE IN 1943
was coming up quickly so I volunteered for jump school at Fort

Benning, Georgia. I was chosen for OSS. We studied everything
you can think of, even to ski at Camp Vail, Colorado. We were to

be the first spies – covert and overt activities, or guerilla warfare.

I was in the Operations team, and we wore military uniforms. We          We sailed from Hampton Roads, VA and landed in Oran, Morocco.
had French, German, Balkan, Greek, Italian and Norwegian men             Then we went by 40 and 8 Rail cars to Algiers. The North African
all speaking the language of where they were going to. I was with        campaign was over. We flew our missions from Algiers. Moving
the French and couldn’t speak anything but broken English. I had         from Bizerta to Sicily, we set up headquarters. The first mission
the only man from the south on my team, Guesma Fontenot, from            was dropping behind the lines in Italy to blow up a railroad bridge
Ville Platte. His service record said “blackjack” and he was a bar       and trestle. There were two officers and 13 of us. We had
tender. He couldn’t tolerate headquarters but he was a good              ammunition in our chest bag, but our equipment was dropped from
fellow. After a mission, he would come in after curfew and get           another chute.
busted. The rest of the guys were from New England and they
spoke French. Joe Lemel couldn’t write or read English. I had to         We dropped in rolling hills, the underground had set it up for us.
read his letters from his girlfriend and we had to write to her for      We were supposed to last about two days, but they didn’t come to
him.                                                                     get us until the fourth night. They came in rubber boats. We were
                                                                         on the beach in Salerno. Jet Birds – three to five – went in ahead
Here is a report of what we did and all the missions in France. At       of us to organize the partisans. John Birch was a Jet Bird in
our graduation, Col. Obburlinsky, a Russian prince, who married          China. The partisans didn’t wear uniforms but were part of the
an Astor girl, and Captain White, called for some volunteers for         covert operation. We went in at night and knew what we could do.
hazardous duty in six weeks. Of the 200 only 35 remained. We             One team in Italy under Lt. Grizzo was caught by Germans and
learned it was behind the lines and consisted of amphibious              killed. One of the first generals to be tried at Nuremberg was this
training and parachuting.                                                general who issued the order to kill these Americans.

All left but 12, Six ended up with OSS. We operated in American                      Look for Part Two in the November Issue!
uniform doing sabotage and guerilla warfare. We learned judo,
hand-to-hand combat, more courses in firing and amphibian
training.

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