Raymond Arnett Helmick was born June 5, 1914 to Sylvester Melvin Helmick and Willa Ann Pugh in Hacker Valley, Webster County, West Virginia. Raymond's father was a local lumberman. Raymond was the youngest child born to the Helmick family joining older sister and a brother, Lester, who would also serve in World War II. Before long, the family relocated from Webster to Randolph County and settled in Pickens.
Raymond was inducted into the United States Marine Corps on July 27, 1934 and then discharged in 1940. He was recalled from the reserves in early 1941 and he was sent overseas to the Pacific on April 9th of that year. He served in China from May 24, 1941 until November 28, 1941. On December 1, 1941 Raymond arrived for service in the Philippines as a Sergeant. He served with bravery during the Japanese attack on the Philippines, but he was captured as a prisoner of war when the islands fell into the hands of the enemy and the remaining troops were forced to surrender.
Raymond was held as a prisoner of war in the Philippines for two years. While being transported to Japan on the Arisan Maru, Raymond lost his life on October 24, 1944 when the unmarked ship was torpedoed by an Allied submarine in the South China Sea. His death was received by the War Department on June 16, 1945.
Raymond was awarded the American Defense Service Medal, the China Service Medal #757, and he was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. His body was buried at sea. In recognition of his honorable service in World War II, and for his ultimate sacrifice, Raymond Arnett Helmick's name is inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in Manila, Philippines, and Raymond's was one of the original names inscribed on the West Virginia Veterans Memorial. Raymond is also honored on the WWII Memorial Online Registry by his brother, Lester H. Helmick.
Hellships of World War II
West Virginia Veterans Memorial Archives Database
West Virginia Archives and History