Milton Ernest Ricketts was born August 5, 1913 in Baltimore, Maryland. He graduated from the Baltimore City College high school and then graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) class of 1935. He graduated as a Lt(jg) service number O-075002.. Assigned to the USS Ranger CV-4 and later USS Yorktown CV-5.
On May 8, 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea Ricketts was Officer-in-Charge of the engineering repair party on USS Yorktown CV-5 when a Japanese bomb passed through the carrier and exploded directly beneath his battle station killing, wounding or stunning all of his men and mortally wounding Ricketts. Despite his ebbing strength, Lt. Ricketts promptly opened the valve of a near-by fireplug, partially led out the fire hose and directed a heavy stream of water into the fire before dropping dead beside the hose. Later, he earned the Medal of Honor for his actions, postuhumously.
Medal of Honor (G.O. No.: 1, 4 January 1944) Posthumous
Citation: "For extraordinary and distinguished gallantry above and beyond the call of duty as Officer-in-Charge of the Engineering Repair Party of the U.S.S. Yorktown in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of the Coral Sea on 8 May 1942. During the severe bombarding of the Yorktown by enemy Japanese forces, an aerial bomb passed through and exploded directly beneath the compartment in which Lt. Ricketts' battle station was located, killing, wounding or stunning all of his men and mortally wounding him. Despite his ebbing strength, Lt. Ricketts promptly opened the valve of a near-by fireplug, partially led out the fire hose and directed a heavy stream of water into the fire before dropping dead beside the hose. His courageous action, which undoubtedly prevented the rapid spread of fire to serious proportions, and his unflinching devotion to duty were in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country."
Ricketts is officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA) on May 8, 1942. He is memorialized at the tablets of the missing at Manila American Cemetery. He also has a memorial marker at Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery in Owings Mills, MD. Afterwards, USS Ricketts (DE-254) was named in his honor.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Milton E. Ricketts
LT Milton Ernest Ricketts (photo, tablets of the missing photo)
Milton Ernest Ricketts (photo, memorial marker photo)