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Ralph James Wickel

T/5 in 3132nd Signal Service Co : T&M Platoon


Born 1922 in PA, Died 2001

County of residence at enlistment: Montgomery County, PA
Other residence(s): Lansdale, PA; Philadelphia, PA; Vero Beach, FL
United States Army, European Theatre of Operations
Occupation before the war: semiskilled occupations in manufacture of electrical machinery and accessories, n.e.c.
College education before the war: Temple Univ. 2 years
College education after the war: Temple Univ.
Notes: Rank from military separation/discharge record as cited in Wikipedia entry
Source: 3132 Caption List; Ghost Army roster by state; Post War Sonic List from Bill Anderson; photo courtesy Heather Collins Mendigorin from the collection of Ralston Barrett Collins

Ralph Wickel was born on November 28, 1921 in Lansdale, PA, the younger of two sons. His father was a shipping clerk with a marine fitting manufacturer, and later a storeroom clerk for a steel company.

In 1939 he graduated from Lansdale High School, where he played in the marching band for four years. He worked for a couple of years after high school as a clerk/bookkeeper for a trucking firm.

He was an avid tennis player, but there was no varsity tennis team at Lansdale. He started playing on local courts, and one of those was a court belonging to The Pool and Sons Pants Factory. The factory owner, Irwin Pool, took notice of Ralph's ability and mentored his development. He participated in local tournaments, played at various private clubs in the Lansdale area, and impressed the Temple University staff sufficiently that he was offered a tennis scholarship there.

He registered for the draft on February 16, 1942, and enlisted on May 25, 1943 after completing his sophomore year at Temple. He was eventually assigned to the 3132 Signal Service Company as a radio operator and saw service in Europe with the unit. Just before heading overseas, on April 1, 1944, he married Georgina Mueller in Lansdale.

Ralph was discharged from the Army on November 2, 1945 at Camp Beale in California, and made his way back to Pennsylvania. He graduated from Temple with a degree in psychology in 1947, went to work as a teacher, and became the father of a daughter, Kathleen.

But he still kept playing tennis! As a member of the Middle States Lawn Tennis Association, a division of the USLTA, he competed successfully in amateur regional tennis tournaments, in both singles and doubles, and on grass, clay, and hard courts. He reached divisional rankings of 9th in singles in 1954 and 1st in doubles in 1954 and 1955. He competed in the USLTA men's singles US National Championships, now known as the US Open, in 1952, 1954, and 1955.

In 1960 he changed careers, joining the Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Publishing Company, where he remained until he retired in 1981. At that point, he and Georgina moved to Vero Beach, FL. The couple were avid antique auto collectors and were members of the National Antique Automobile Club and the Indian River County Studebaker Club.

Ralph died on April 26, 2001.

NOTE: In 2015, it was proposed to the US Board on Geographic Names that a 1.2-mile-long stream, starting in the borough of Lansdale at Lansdale Cemetery and flowing to Towamencin Creek, be named “Wickel Run” to honor Ralph Wickel.


1930 census

1939 Lansdale HS yearbook (includes photo)

1940 census

1942 draft card

1944 marriage record

1947 Temple University yearbook (includes photo)

1950 Pennsylvania World War II Compensation Record

1948-1954 articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer (PA) about his tennis play

1960 article in the Philadelphia Inquirer about his squash play

2001 obituary in the Press Journal (Vero Beach, FL)

2001 VA death record

2001 Social Security Applications and Claims Index

2015 Quarterly Review List, US Board on Geographic Names (see p. 35)

Wikipedia bio (detailed history of his tennis career)

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