A Hero's Tale

Sigourney - As the folks of Sigourney prepare to celebrate 175 years of history, it is only natural that we take this time to reflect on our remarkable citizens. Over the centuries, there have been many, but one that most in this time period still remember, at least by name, is the legendary Sergeant Quincy Irven Rice. His story of surviving as a prisoner of war during the World War II conflict is a priceless historical treasure, mostly because he wrote about the account in his own words, leaving behind firsthand history for us all to learn from.

            His journal is filled with descriptions of places he went, people he met, and experiences he endured. One thing missing, despite the hardships he faced, were complaints about what he went through.

            Rice begins his written reflection with his first day in the army.

            “On March 15, 1944, I was inducted into the army at Camp Dodge, Iowa. I received my uniform that day and the night of March15, 1944, was my first night in a G.I. bed,” Rice said.

            Due to a family tragedy, Rice was back home sooner than anyone would have ever wanted.

            “On the following morning, March 16, 1944, about 9:30, I got word to call Dad. I knew something was wrong and sure enough, our baby Jane had passed away. I went back to our Co. Commander and told him what had happened. He gave me a three-day pass and the promise of an extension if I needed it. As I had not yet heard the articles of war it was necessary that I hear them before I would be permitted to leave camp. I caught a ride into Des Moines and got a bus for home arriving there about 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 16,” Rice said.

            Rice’s daughter Laurel, also documented the memory of when her father left and came home again when Jane passed.

            “When Daddy left on March 15, Jane was laying in the little white bed with the big wheels. Daddy wanted her to kiss him good-bye but she said, ‘I can’t Daddy.’ The next morning when mother woke up Jane was dead. Daddy came home for a few days. I seemed to realize the seriousness of the situation but Merrill didn’t seem to. I remember getting fussed at him because he wanted to play and be noisy—he was all boy. People came and cared. In those days, before ‘women’s lib,’ the folks chose young girls to be the casket bearers for Jane. When the funeral etc. was over Daddy had to go back,” Laurel said.

            With this second, harder goodbye completed, Rice set out again to and completed his induction process on Wednesday, March 23, 1944. The following week he found himself on a train heading west.

            “On Tuesday we were put on orders and got on a train about 5 o’clock in the evening. When I woke up the next morning we were out in Nebraska and going west. Most everybody had an idea where we were going but of course, nothing for sure. On Friday evening the 31st of March our train pulled into Camp Roberts, California, One hundred ninety of us had come all of the way from Iowa.” Rice said.

            After “17 weeks of hard training,” Rice and company graduated from IRTC on July 29, 1944. The next week they received orders to report to Ft. George C. Meade, Maryland with just enough to visit home on the way.

            By September 10, 1944, the troops were onboard the U.S.S. Mt. Vernon and “at about 1800” they left the Boston harbor headed overseas.

            “The weather was nice and we had an enjoyable trip as could be expected under the circumstances. There we 18 men out of our old platoon on the same ship though we were scattered out through the several different packets,” Rice said.

For more on this story and others, catch the July 3 edition of the News-Review.