William Ronal Ragsdale – June 28, 1944
HQ Company, First Battalion, 24th Marines
Submitted June, 2011.
Bill Ragsdale was born in October, 1922, and was a native of Nashville, Tennessee. He married Mina Eloise Friedli in January, 1942, shortly before enlisting in the Marine Corps. Ragsdale was a forward echelon clerk with Company A, 24th Marines for most of 1943 before transferring to Battalion Headquarters. He missed the regiment’s first battle on Namur as he was assigned to help transfer the division’s base of operations from Camp Pendleton to Camp Maui. Evidently a skilled administrator, “Rags” was promoted to Corporal in spring 1944, and made his first combat landing on Saipan that June.
Ragsdale was reported as missing in action on the morning of June 23, 1944. He was never seen again by his battalion, who carried him as missing until the end of July 1944, then declared him “presumed dead” as of June 28. (Reasons for the three-day discrepancy are unknown; Ragsdale’s battalion lost heavily in an ambush on June 22, and Ragsdale may have been hit during this engagement and gone to find help without seeing a battalion corpsman – one could speculate endlessly.)
Ragsdale’s remains were located after the division had moved on. He was evidently without any identification, though the Graves Registration detail noted he was wearing a gold wedding ring with the inscription “To Bill from Eloise.” His remains were buried as Unknown X-6 in the 27th Division Cemetery, Plot 2, Row 2, Grave 441 at 1340 hours, July 6 1944.
When the cemetery was emptied after the war, Ragsdale’s remains were likely mistaken for those of an Army KIA. Fortunately, his wedding ring remained, and proved the key in identifying his remains. Mrs. Ragsdale was widely known as “Eloise” – her name on the band, in addition to dental records and a physical description of the remains leave little doubt that the man buried as Unknown in Section L, Row 6, Grave 49 of the Manila American Cemetery is William Ragsdale.
Eloise Ragsdale remarried, and carried on with her life. However, she never forgot Bill, and continued trying to find out what had happened to him until her death in 2007.
This case file was submitted to JPAC by the WFI Research Group in June, 2011. As of publishing time, we have not received word of their intent.