Jack Addison Rickel, Front Royal, VA, Greatest Generation War Hero, Bronze Star and Purple Heart recipient.
Born April 20, 1923, in his family’s living room in Newcastle, PA. Premature, he suffered colic as an infant. Later he experienced measles, pneumonia, and scarlet fever all prior to high school. In HS, he fixed radios for friends and family while learning to drive a REO Speedwagon and a 5-ton Pepsi delivery truck during HS jobs. Graduating HS in January 1942 with no hope of attending college, Jack’s initial job was with the Legal Department of the Pennsylvania RR as an Insurance Adjustor.
Initially classified as 4-F with 20 / 400 eyesight, February 1943 found him drafted and assigned to HQ clerical duty (Fort Bragg). After seven months and promotion to Buck Sargent, Jack (without authorization) added his name to a set of orders transferring a large number of men to Combat Infantry training at Fort Robinson, Little Rock. Where Jack, started private flying lessons — receiving his license prior to his transfer to Camp Maxey for explosives training.
Now an extremely young First Sargent, Jack, arrived in the port of Marseille on Christmas Eve, 1944. Starting in the forest of north Belgium, fighting in knee-high snow with frost bitten fingers, he lived in the frigid woods for weeks at a time with little food or cover. Company K, Fourth Infantry then drove south to liberate Luxembourg where Jack earned a Bronze Star with a “V” for Valor, along with medals for European Theater and Battle of the Bulge Medals with 4 Oak Leaves.
After fighting in Hurtgen Forest, Black Forest, Ramagen Bridgehead, Aachen, Prum, and Cologne; Jack was wounded in Koblenz and awarded the Purple Heart.
Having “played” with radios as a young man, Jack enrolled in “Electronics” at the University of Arkansas. Next, he was the Night Manager of the radio systems of the Houston Metro Police Department. In the spring of 1950, he rented an apartment to his future wife, the recently arrived 19 year-old blond from the island of Barbados — Gloria. Married in December 1950, they moved to Little Rock and Kansas City as Jack pursued Communication Sales Management. By 1956, Jack, owned a rural phone company in Kansas and a Bonanza plane. They sold the phone company to pay for the birth of their son in 1958 as Jack joined Dage Television where he helped design the first TV cameras and systems.
Starting in 1960, Jack, developed government markets for Television related technologies. Starting with TRW, he led a variety of efforts — from placing TV cameras in space to inside a crippled Hanford Nuclear Reactor. Launching the first of several entrepreneurial efforts, Jack, received many early TV Technologies contracts from sensitive Government agencies. By 1969, his Reston townhouse had a facility clearance where he designed and prototyped custom communication solutions. Earlier, as the chief technical manager for the Reston Cable Company he designed the first 24-channel system. Concurrently, he led the build of the Lexington VA City Cable Company and owned/operated the Lynchburg VA system.
Jack had an incredible marketing insight and work ethic. When the Federal government market place became too difficult to compete with shrinking margins, he started exporting TV / Cable TV technologies to Central and South America for American and Japanese firms — this required learning Spanish at 50 years old. His engineering services and equipment brought Educational TV to several nations. He was especially proud of his conversion of several national networks from Black & White to Color TV standards. During the 80s, his efforts delivered the first cable TV to Hong Kong, Gibraltar, and Iceland; while building the early cable TV companies of Columbia and the West Indies. He received a Presidential “E” Award for outstanding export success from the US Commerce Department.
Retiring to Front Royal, VA, Jack and his wife were committed to local causes and the Warren Democratic Committee.
Jack was preceded in death by his daughter, Susan Elizabeth (Rose) of White Post; and his wife, Gloria. Survivors include his son John (Long Valley, NJ) and many nephews and nieces.
Service will be delayed until summer. Internment will be in St. George’s Parish Church, Barbados.
Arrangements are being handled by Enders & Shirley Funeral Home, Berryville, VA. www.endersandshirley.com.