Earl T. Ricks

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Earl T. Ricks
MG Earl F Ricks.jpg
Major General Earl T. Ricks
Born(1908-07-09)July 9, 1908
West Point, Mississippi
DiedJanuary 4, 1954(1954-01-04) (aged 45)
Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C.
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branch United States Air Force
Years of service1940-1954
RankUS-O8 insignia.svg Major General
UnitArkansas National Guard
Air National Guard
National Guard Bureau
Commands heldThirty-sixth Strategic Air Base
Payne Airfield
Arkansas National Guard
Air National Guard
National Guard Bureau
Battles/warsWorld War II
AwardsLegion of Merit
Air Medal
Other workPilot
Car dealer
Mayor of Hot Springs, Arkansas

Earl T. Ricks (July 9, 1908 – January 4, 1954) was a United States Air Force Major General who served as Chief of the Air Force Division at the National Guard Bureau and acting Chief of the National Guard Bureau. His four months as acting NGB Chief made him the first Air National Guard officer to hold the position.

Early life[edit]

Earl Thornton Ricks was born in West Point, Mississippi, and reared in Stamps in Lafayette County in southwestern Arkansas. Attracted to flying from an early age, he graduated from Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology in St. Louis, Missouri, purchased a biplane and became a pilot.[1][2]

In 1935 he moved to Hot Springs and became partners with Raymond Clinton (brother of Bill Clinton's adoptive father Roger Clinton, Sr.) in the Ricks-Clinton Buick car dealership.[3]

World War II[edit]

In March 1940, Ricks joined the Arkansas National Guard as a member of the 154th Observation Squadron, and soon received his commission as a Second Lieutenant.[4] In September he entered federal service as a member of the 17th Bombardment Group. In 1941 he was named Commander of the 36th Strategic Air Base in Miami, Florida,[5] the departure point for soldiers deploying to North Africa. Ricks subsequently received appointment as Commander of Payne Airfield in Cairo, Egypt.[6]

Promoted to Colonel in April, 1944, Ricks was assigned as Deputy Commander of the Southwest Pacific Wing, Air Transport Command, operating in Australia, New Guinea, and the Philippines.[7]

At the end of the Pacific campaign, Ricks piloted the Japanese delegation from Ie Shima to Manila to receive surrender terms from General of the Army Douglas MacArthur.[8]

Ricks served in the post-war occupation of Japan, and oversaw the landing of two occupation divisions at Atsugi airdrome in Yokohama.[9]

Post World War II[edit]

After the war Ricks returned to his Hot Springs car dealership and started a charter flying service.[10]

He became involved in politics as a member of a group of veterans, led by Raymond Clinton and Sidney McMath, which attempted to overthrow the political organization led by Mayor Leo McLaughlin.[11] This veterans group, the "GIs," prevailed in the 1946 municipal elections, and Ricks won the contest for Mayor.[12] He served one term, 1947 to 1949, and made efforts to change Hot Springs' reputation as a "sin city" of gambling and vice, while also carrying out a program of improvements to roads, water and sanitation systems.[13]

Adjutant General of Arkansas[edit]

In 1948 McMath won election as Governor. In 1949 he appointed Ricks as Adjutant General of the Arkansas National Guard, and Ricks was promoted to Brigadier General.[14]

National Guard Bureau[edit]

In 1950 Ricks was appointed Chief of the Air Force Division at the National Guard Bureau and Deputy Chief of the National Guard Bureau, receiving promotion to Major General.[15]

In early to mid-1953 Ricks served four months as the acting Chief of the National Guard Bureau, following the retirement of Raymond H. Fleming.[16]

Death and burial[edit]

Ricks was diagnosed with cancer in 1953 and had a tumor removed from his leg. He did not recover, and died at Walter Reed Army Medical Center on January 4, 1954.[17] He is buried at Lakeside Cemetery in Stamps.[18]

Awards and decorations[edit]

Ricks was a recipient of the Legion of Merit and the Air Medal.[19]


In 1930 Ricks married Hazel Brown, daughter of a partner in Bodcaw Lumber, the largest lumber company in the world at the time. They had four children, and his wife and children survived him.[20]


The 188th Fighter Wing was nicknamed "Ricks' Rippers".[21]

Ricks was inducted into the Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame in 1983.[22]

The Air National Guard's annual award for best unit airmanship is called the Earl T. Ricks Award.[23]

The National Guard armory in Little Rock, Arkansas is named for him.[24]

In the 1950s and 1960s the Air National Guard conducted an annual Ricks Memorial Trophy contest, a cross country timed air race designed to showcase the capabilities of the newly formed Air National Guard.[25]

Ricks bought the home of spa and railroad entrepreneur Samuel W. Fordyce in 1932. Still privately owned, in 2003 the 14-room log structure and the nearly 500 acres that adjoin it were designated the Fordyce-Ricks House Historic District by the National Register of Historic Places.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Associated Press, Spokane Spokesman Press-Review, Earl Ricks Hops First to Yuma, August 26, 1935
  2. ^ Judy Byrd Brittenum, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, Biography, Earl Thornton Ricks (1908–1954), 2009
  3. ^ Michael Walsh, Boston Globe, The Dealmaker of Hot Springs, Ark., September 25, 1998
  4. ^ Charles J Gross, The Air National Guard and the American Military Tradition, 1995, page 57
  5. ^ Palm beach Post, Air-WAC Recruiting Rally Set Tonight, April 17, 1944
  6. ^ National Guard Association of the United States, Official Proceedings, Volumes 74-76, 1952, page 172
  7. ^ United States House of Representatives, Congressional Record, Volume 100, Part 2, 1954, page 1596
  8. ^ Hartford Courant, Plane Trip Enjoyed By Jap Envoys, August 20, 1945
  9. ^ Judy Byrd Brittenum, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, Biography, Earl Thornton Ricks (1908–1954), 2009
  10. ^ Rachel Silva, Walks Through History: Fordyce-Ricks House Historic District, Hot Springs Archived 2012-04-15 at the Wayback Machine, 2010, page 9
  11. ^ Sug Wilson, Hot Springs Village Voice, Local History: Leo McLaughlin: A Very Colorful Mayor[permanent dead link], January 16, 2008
  12. ^ United Press International. St. Petersburg Times, Names Mayor, April 3, 1947
  13. ^ Judy Byrd Brittenum, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, Biography, Earl Thornton Ricks (1908–1954), 2009
  14. ^ William Gober, Jr., Associated Press, Miami Sunday News, Florida Maneuvers Convince Experts U.S. Could be Ready for War in Hour, February 26, 1950
  15. ^ Baltimore Sun, General Ricks New Head Of Air National Guard, September 26, 1950
  16. ^ new York Times, Gen. Fleming Leaves Guard Post, February 14, 1953
  17. ^ Chicago Tribune, Gen. Earl Ricks Dies, January 5, 1954
  18. ^ Earl Thornton Ricks at Find A Grave
  19. ^ Judy Byrd Brittenum, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, Biography, Earl Thornton Ricks (1908–1954), 2009
  20. ^ Judy Byrd Brittenum, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture, Biography, Earl Thornton Ricks (1908–1954), 2009
  21. ^ Air National Guard, A Brief History of the 188th Fighter Wing, accessed May 2, 2013
  22. ^ Arkansas Air & Military Museum, Arkansas Aviation Hall of Fame, 2011
  23. ^ Air Force Association, National Aerospace Awards[permanent dead link], 2009, page 3
  24. ^ Sid McMath, Promises Kept: A Memoir, 2003, pages 184-185
  25. ^ Kennard R. Wiggins Jr., The Earl T. Ricks Memorial Trophy: A Forgotten Jet Age Championship, 2011
  26. ^ The Fordyce-Ricks Estate, A Brief History of Historic Fordyce Ricks Estate Archived 2013-02-20 at the Wayback Machine, 2009

Further reading[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Maj. Gen. George G. Finch
Director of the Air National Guard
1950 – 1954
Succeeded by
Maj. Gen. Winston P. Wilson
Preceded by
MG Raymond H. Fleming
Chief of the National Guard Bureau
1953 - 1953
Succeeded by
MG Edgar C. Erickson