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WWII veteran to receive service medals

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, Nov. 9, 2012, at 8:19 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, at 11:26 a.m.

Shortly after Max Ramsey’s wife of 65 years died last December, his family wanted to do something to brighten his days.

Daughter-in-law Pat Ramsey knew the retired Kingman farmer had never received the World War II medals he earned while in the Army Air Corps, so she decided last summer to try to make that happen.

“That would give Grandpa something to look forward to,” Pat Ramsey said.

His day is here.

Sunday – Veterans Day – Max Ramsey will receive his four WWII medals during the 10 a.m. service at Central Christian Church in Wichita. Congressman Mike Pompeo will present the medals and Maj. Gen. Cecil Richardson, a retired Air Force chaplain, will pin them on. About 20 family members and friends are expected to attend.

“This will be a Veterans Day I’ll never forget,” said Ramsey, who turns 86 the day after Christmas.

Pompeo’s office assisted in getting the medals. His office was aware Richardson was already scheduled to speak Sunday at Central Christian, so Ramsey was asked whether he wanted to come to Wichita to have his medals presented by a general.

“A general? I never met one of those critters,” Ramsey said. “You don’t see them in an infantry line company.”

Ramsey was the fourth generation to grow up on the family’s farm near Cleveland in Kingman County, and that’s where he was as an 18-year-old when he received his draft notice from the Army.

He tried to join the Navy but was turned down because he was color blind. So the Army it was. He entered in April 1945 and reached the rank of corporal.

He was going to be part of the invasion of Japan, but the Japanese officially surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945. He was transferred to the Air Corps and became part of the U.S. occupation forces in Japan.

Ramsey was chief of a crew working on airplanes despite being outranked by others in his crew.

“All the farm boys could work on anything,” Pat Ramsey said.

Max Ramsey returned from the war with $100 in his pocket. He continued farming for a number of years before turning the work over to his son Steve, Pat’s husband.

He would later tell his family about stories of dumping U.S. military equipment, such as jeeps, in the ocean so the Japanese couldn’t have it. But that was much, much later.

“For years and years Grandpa just didn’t talk about his war experiences,” Pat Ramsey said.

But after the Kingman schools started having events to honor veterans, he got excited and wanted to talk about those experiences, she said.

He had never requested his WWII medals, but Pat Ramsey figured they would be important to them.

And after his wife died, Pat Ramsey said, “I thought just working on getting the medals would be something positive for him.”

Max Ramsey is hard of hearing from all those years on a noisy tractor. He doesn’t give out many hugs. In fact, Pat Ramsey can’t remember ever being hugged by her father-in-law. That was before she showed him the letter two months ago that said the medals were on the way to Pompeo’s office.

“He came toddling across the floor as fast as he could and hugged me,” Pat Ramsey said.

He’ll receive the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign, Good Conduct, Army of Occupation with the Japan Clasp and WWII Victory medals. He’ll also finally receive a Marksmanship Badge with a rifle bar.

As colorful as those medals are, Max Ramsey is most excited about getting that silver-colored Marksmanship Badge.

“I think it’s beautiful,” he said.

Maybe it’s because he never knew he’d earned it.

“I went to the range, and they told me I didn’t need to come back,” Max Ramsey said. “I qualified and hardly had to shoot at all. And now I get that badge.

“After 67 years, this will be nice.”

Reach Rick Plumlee at 316-268-6660 or at rplumlee@wichitaeagle.com.

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