Private First Class Ambrose Iziah Rice

Ambrose Rice, 1942
Ambrose Rice, 1942

Photo from The Harvester World, January 1943


Service Number: 353549

Birth and Early Life:
Ambrose Rice was born in Indianapolis, Indiana around the year 1916. As a child, he attended St. Peter & Paul Cathedral School before his parents, Margaret and Ambrose Senior, moved to South Bend in 1929. After graduating from Central High school in 1934, Rice enrolled at the University of Notre Dame, but left after the 1936 school year. He moved to Mount Carroll, Illinois, then to Jackson, Michigan, where he worked for the International Harvester company, first as a motor truck blockman and then as a sales agent.

In December 1941, Rice resigned from International Harvester. He and his coworker, John Hardy, had decided to join the Marine Corps.

Enlistment and Boot Camp:
On January 5, 1942, Rice traveled to Chicago to enlist in the Marines. He was sent to Parris Island for boot camp, and was promoted to Private First Class shortly after completing his training; he and Hardy were split up after boot camp and sent to different regiments of the First Marine Division. (1) They would meet again overseas.

Wartime Service:
Rice was posted to Company F, Second Battalion, 1st Marines in the spring of 1942. He served with the company at New River, North Carolina and Wellington, New Zealand, before making the landing on Guadalcanal on August 7, 1942.

PFC Rice participated in heavy fighting in the early days of the campaign before his regiment settled into defensive positions. Most of his time on the island was spent on local patrols and just enduring the terrible living conditions on the line. He did manage to visit with his friend Hardy at one point, and wrote a letter back to his friends at International Harvester:

Hi, Gang!

I guess you read about our battle here in the papers. It was a little hot for a while but cooled off as the supply of Japs ran out. We understand that “Tojo the Nip-Nip” was a little put out.

Now a little bit about John Hardy in case he hasn’t been able to drop you a line. I ran into him the other day (we are not together any more) and had a long talk with him. He looks fine and was in his usual good spirits. Just a trifle downcast because he didn’t have any overdue accounts to collect.

Flash! Russ Moore and Truckmen: The International truck is really improving its name here. It goes where the rest won’t even try. There are ——‘s, —–‘s, —–‘s, —–‘s, and —–‘s, (foreign-made) trucks here and the “corn binders” pull them through the tough spots….” (2)

Date Of Loss:
PFC Rice was killed in action on September 14, 1942. No information is available about the circumstance of his death, although newspapers reported that he had been given a military burial on the island.

Next Of Kin:
Father, Mr. Ambrose Rice

Status Of Remains:

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Philippines.
(1) John C. Hardy went to Company A, First Pioneer Battalion.
(2) The Harvester World: Volume 34, Number 1, January 1943, page 19.

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