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Ralph Lewis Boone

Courtesy Boone/Morgan family

West Virginia Veterans Memorial

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Ralph Lewis Boone
1925-1945

"For his unselfish sacrifice in the service of his Country, every American owes your son an everlasting debt of gratitude."

Major General Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr.

Ralph Boone was born on December 6, 1925, in Ronceverte, West Virginia, and met his untimely death on April 16, 1945, serving this great nation. Boone served on Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands in the Pacific Theater of World War II. He felt the call to serve and voluntarily enlisted in the Marines on March 8, 1944. His sacrifice to this nation is the greatest service he could perform.

After completing Marine Boot Camp at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, Pfc. Ralph Boone was deployed to the Asiatic-Pacific area on August 1, 1944, where he served with the 6th Marines, 3rd Battalion, Company H as an Infantry Machine Gunner. He trained with other Marines at Guadalcanal until his combat deployment to Okinawa. During his deployment, he participated in combat against the Japanese Imperial Army at the extremely fortified Okinawa Island from April 1 to April 16, 1945.
Ralph Boone

Pfc. Ralph Boone at Marine boot camp with his weapon.
Courtesy Boone/Morgan family

Okinawa is the largest island in the Ryukyu Islands, and Washington felt that possession of Okinawa would catalyze American defeat of the Japanese Imperial Army. Possession of Okinawa would also give the United States additional, better-positioned air bases. The only problem with Okinawa would be the immense and almost unimaginable defenses that were put there. About a year prior to Pfc. Boone’s service on this island, Lieutenant General Masao Watanabe of the Imperial Army saw the irregular and mountainous terrain of Okinawa and activated the large 32nd Army for duty. He ordered the troops there to fortify the island to make it impenetrable for American forces. These fortifications included elaborate tunnel systems, concrete pillboxes, tank traps, and even mine fields. All of these elaborate and intense defenses were enforced by well over 100,000 Imperial troops and were put on the already rugged, mountainous Okinawa to make a formidable defense against the Americans. (Source: Gordon R. Sullivan, “Ryukyus,” accessed 27 May 2014, http://www.history.army.mil/brochures/ryukyus/ryukyus.htm.)

On April 1, 1945, Pfc. Ralph Boone, along with all the other soldiers in the 6th Marines, attacked Okinawa. For more than two weeks, Boone and his comrades fought to take the island. Many a soldier was killed taking this island. On the first day, the 6th Marines suffered numerous casualties. His unit destroyed pillboxes, tunnel systems, and other traps set by the Imperial Army so that other American forces could reinforce the island. As Boone and his unit went, they slowly crept more and more near to the peak of Mt. Yaetake. The brave Marines taking that hill, however, had no idea that Imperial Army soldiers laid in wait at the mountain’s peak. Boone was one of the first to reach the top of the mountain, and he was ambushed by the enemy troops there. A fellow Marine and long time friend of Boone, David Lilly, stated that Ralph stood firm and shot true. He stated that Boone was taking down enemy troops as best as any Marine could until he took enemy fire. A medic was called for. Lilly knew it was Boone because of his “reddish hair.” Pfc. Boone’s platoon leader, First Lieutenant James Mahoney, said that Boone was “willing and industrious” throughout his time in the Marines. He said that Boone never complained, and he always did as he was asked. Mahoney said in a letter to Boone’s family, “Your son typified all that is fine and outstanding in American youth whom we are so proud of to have served in the United States Marines.” Pfc. Ralph Boone was an outstanding soldier, and an infinitely better young man. (Source: Sue Morgan, interview with Lilly)

Sterling Morgan, Ralph Boone, and Alfred Morgan

Roy Boone, Alfred Boone, and Ralph Boone.
Courtesy Boone/Morgan family

Ralph Boone was born in Ronceverte, West Virginia, on December 6, 1925, to Charles Boone and Elizabeth Boone. Boone’s father died on May 1, 1930, of complications from surgery to rid him of stomach cancer. In 1932, Elizabeth married Homer Kite Morgan. Their families blended together perfectly. There were a total of 17 people living together under one roof: Elizabeth and Homer, the mother and father, and the 15 children: Iva, Edward, Alfred, Alice, Ralph, Roy, who were Elizabeth’s children; Homer’s children: Herman, Edward, Thelma, Charlotte, Wallace, and Annabel; and finally their shared children and Ralph’s half-siblings, Sterling, Barbara, and Victor. The family lived and worked together as a loving unit toward one goal. Ralph was always considered a shy and patriotic boy. He tended to stay more close to home than others. He formed a very special bond with his siblings, especially his half-brother Alfred Boone; the two were always inseparable. His family had a small farm that the children worked on while Homer worked on the nearby railroad. Ralph completed public school until the eighth grade, and dropped out to work on the farm. All was well and good at the Morgan household, until the height of World War II. Brave, shy, patriotic Ralph Boone enlisted in the Marines to support the American effort. After he enlisted, he left his family to go to Marine boot camp, and from there he was deployed to the Asiatic-Pacific Area for training and combat. His family had no idea that their loving son would not return home to them. On April 30, 1945, Homer Morgan came home in the afternoon during his shift at the railroad. This was highly unusual. He came bearing a telegram informing the family that Ralph Lewis Boone, their beloved son, had been killed in action at Okinawa. Mrs. Morgan broke down, as Ralph’s half-brother Sterling reported, “She broke down into tears when she saw the telegram. You could hear her crying throughout the whole holler.” Elizabeth Morgan had lost a son, and there was nothing that she could do.

Ralph Boone was initially buried on Okinawa in the 6th Marine Division Cemetery, Plot A, Row 7, Grave 179. It wasn’t until March 29, 1949, that Ralph Boone Reached his final resting place in the Greenbrier Regular Baptist Church Cemetery. Pfc. Ralph Boone is memorialized through his service and service awards. Boone received many awards from the Marines for his service and courage, including the Presidential Unit Citation Ribbon, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, the World War II Victory Medal, and his so solemnly earned Purple Heart. The West Virginia Legislature passed House Concurrent Resolution No. 101 for a bridge dedication for Pfc. Ralph Boone on March 11, 2011. Having a bridge named after him along Interstate 64, at mile marker 172.5, Ralph Boone’s name shall live on forever in this great state.
memorial service

Memorial Service; Wreath Placement by Timothy W. Morgan, Commander, U.S. Navy, Retired.
Courtesy Boone/Morgan family

Family information provided by Sterling Morgan and Sue Morgan. Article prepared by Ryan Hayes and Grant Lares.

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Ralph Boone

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