Kenneth E. Ritter

Photo courtesy of Kathy S. McBee

NAME
Kenneth Earl Ritter
NICKNAME
Ken
MCSN
281346
HOME OF RECORD
Moatsville, WV
NEXT OF KIN
Father, Mr. Fred L. Ritter
DATE OF BIRTH
November 14, 1922
DATE OF ENLISTMENT
January 25, 1940
DATE OF LOSS
September 14, 1942
REGION
Solomons
CAMPAIGN / AREA
Guadalcanal / Bloody Ridge
CASUALTY TYPE
Killed in Action
UNIT
E/1st Raider Battalion*
DUTY
CIRCUMSTANCES OF LOSS

On 12 September 1942, PFC Ritter’s squad of Company E, 1st Raider Battalion was assigned to an advanced outpost in front of the main defensive line situated on Bloody Ridge, Guadalcanal. The poorly sited position was hit and overrun that night; Ritter, already suffering from dysentery, was wounded in the back and then bayonetted.

PFC Joseph Rushton attempted to carry Ritter back through the lagoon to safety, but Ritter succumbed to his wounds shortly before dawn. Rushton concealed Ritter’s body beneath a large fern before moving on.

Unfortunately, Rushton was wounded and evacuated soon after, and the location of Ritter’s body went unreported. His remains, if recovered, have never been identified.

INDIVIDUAL DECORATIONS
Purple Heart
LAST KNOWN RANK
Private First Class
STATUS OF REMAINS
Not recovered.
MEMORIALS
Manila American Cemetery

Note: Ritter was a recent transfer to Company E; muster rolls and his casualty card confirm his assignment. He was serving with Company C as recently as August, 1942.

Biography:
Temporarily removed for editing and updating. Contact the webmaster for information on this Marine.


We heard them splashing across the river. They weren’t very quiet. We could hear them jabbering away. They weren’t attacking; they just were coming down the fire lane trying to find us. Soon they were all around our position. I could hear the bolts being pulled back on their weapons. Next they sprayed the bushes near us. We didn’t fire because we knew if we did, we’d give away our position and they’d overwhelm us. So we threw grenades into them as they went around us, toward the ridge. We just kept throwing grenades. There wasn’t the kind of fear you might think. There wasn’t any panic or anything.
They came back through us again. Like I said, they weren’t very quiet. They were making a lot of noise, talking, yelling to one another, and I heard someone getting beat up on the left. I can still hear the screams. He was begging for mercy. They were berating him. Later on, I found that it was one of my friends, Ken Ritter. I’d seen him the day we went into our position. He had dysentery and was in bad shape, laying alongside the trail. As I went by, he looked up and smiled real weak-like. He didn’t have anything to say. I heard from people later on that they bayoneted him.
– Corporal Robert Youngdeer, HQ Company, 1st Raider Battalion

Articles and Records:

Excerpt from the 1st Raider Battalion muster roll, September 1942. The deleted footnotes refer to Ritter’s original MIA status. Despite the note regarding “B Medical Company,” Ritter was not identified among those buried in the First Marine Division Cemetery.

Photo Gallery:
Coming soon.

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