LOS ALAMOS, NM, March 02, 2020 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Tthe home of the Manhattan Project (NHP), March 2, 2020 James Ritchie has been included in Marquis Who's Who. As in all Marquis Who's Who biographical volumes, individuals profiled are selected on the basis of current reference value. Factors such as position, noteworthy accomplishments, visibility, and prominence in a field are all taken into account during the selection process.
Born to his natural parents who are James B. ("Bud") Ritchie (of Scottish descent) and Helen Christensen (maiden name) Ritchie (of Danish heritage) on September 29, 1942, our James ("Jim") B. Ritchie's life bears evidence of a remarkable four years of draft-induced military service, of reformed Christianity 1999 until now, and of dedication to his chosen profession, the practice of Construction Law in court trials to "right wrongs", as a truth-bound trial lawyer from 1973 until 2009. Only in retrospect did Jim Ritchie come to realize how becoming an Army captain chaplain toward the end of the Vietnam War, 1968-1972, would serve to equip him for the many years of courtroom trials as well as the trials of life from 1973 until the present. Facing death or massive injury in combat for an entire year serving his infantry troops while he was always unarmed and without any chaplain assistant willing to accompany him, created the experience former Army Chaplain (Captain) Ritchie knows developed within him a deep and abiding God-Given faith. That faith which rescued him from death and bodily injury enabled him to bring the Scripture's Message to trained infantrymen under his ministry during the Vietnam War. As a living truth, his subsequent decades of court trials were sustained by that same maturing Christian Faith.
Jim Ritchie was by birth a native of Fort Worth, Texas, and his family moved to Birmingham, AL when he was 10 years old. His father had been building military bomber-aircraft in San Diego CA for 2 years before The Japanese Surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941; and with a potential attack on the American West Coast, military equipment manufacturing was moved inland to such locations as Fort Worth. By 1952, his father's secret clearances and expertise brought him employment supervising bomber and Redstone Rocket fabrication for Hayes Aircraft Company in Birmingham and Huntsville AL. Thus, young Ritchie finished elementary school and went on to Shades Valley High School, Mountain Brook, AL. Upon graduating in 1960, he focused his studies at the University of Alabama on a special Pre-Law 4-year curriculum of 3 years undergraduate work with the 4th year in Law School. Thus by 1964, he had earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree (AB). Seeking a nationally-ranked law school for the next 2 years of legal education, he applied at 10th nationally ranked Emory University Lamar School of Law and was accepted. He graduated Emory Law School in June 1966 and at the same time he passed the State Bar of Georgia law-exam, and was immediately admitted to the Georgia Bar. He was 23 years old. His degree from Emory was the Bachelor of Laws Degree (LLB) later elevated to the Doctor of Law Degree (JD). By that time his draft-board, which had granted him almost 2 years deferment for law school, was ready to induct him involuntarily. Once again the Vietnam War was heating up, this time under President Lyndon B. Johnson, so Attorney Ritchie's next step was personally of a crucial nature: either serve without preparation or serve wisely in a manner with potential for benefiting other drafted American citizens.
Attorney Ritchie, at only 23, had options which might allow him to enter military service voluntarily: he had served 3 years in the Air Force ROTC at Alabama to be pursued, or he had opportunity to enlist for 6 years in the Air Force Judge Advocate Corps. Induction would have meant 2 years of national service. Also as a benefit he had had a series of preparatory jobs from ages 14 to 23: Johnson Oil Equipment (early learner under a mechanic who was a WWI veteran 1917), Camp Dixie for Boys (Canoe Counselor), Sky Valley Ranch for Boys (Wilderness Counselor), J.J. Finnigan Steel (twice Dante's Inferno), Fidelifacts of GA (as private investigator), and Shoob, McLain & Jessee (1st as Investigator, then as Law Clerk). While at Emory Law School, he had worked for 2 years with the Shoob Law Firm. When he passed the Bar, he was promptly elevated to Associate Attorney by Federal District Court Judge-to-be Marvin H. Shoob (who was awarded The Bronze Star Medal with valor in WWII), and who knew his young aspiring lawyer was bound for Military service within 3 months. An unexpected offer reached novice Attorney Ritchie. The Church in which he had been raised invited him to Boston MA. There the Church outlined a path for becoming a military chaplain. He accepted the commitment to take 2 full years of Seminary schooling followed by 4 full years as an Army Protestant Chaplain. Attorney Ritchie started as a second-year seminarian in the three-year track of Christian Theological Studies. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had earned his PhD in 1953 at the same Boston University School of Theology (BUST) that Jim Ritchie attended 2 years, earning his Master of Church History Degree (MCH) in 1968. During those 2 years Mr. Ritchie also had been mentored by the esteemed hero of the Second World War, former Army Chaplain Richard H. Chase, who was then serving as the Director of Christian Science Activities in Armed Services.
During his 2 years at BUST, Jim Ritchie had been accumulating valuable ministerial experiences by serving at Boston State (Mental) Hospital, Norfolk State Prison, Augusta Georgia Veterans' Mental Hospital, and at Fort Gordon Military Prison Facility. Because he had chosen Army service in June 1968, Jim Ritchie was commissioned First LT-USAR at the Army's Chaplain Training Facility at Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, NY; next he was commissioned Army Captain AUS in July 1968. He completed his 9 weeks of basic training for Army Chaplains: Catholic, Jewish, or Protestant, finishing in the top 10% of the Class. Chaplain (Captain) Ritchie's first active duty assignment started September 1968 at Fort Bragg North Carolina as Assistant Unit Chaplain for the 50th Signal Battalion (Airborne) operating in direct support of the 18th Airborne Army Corps. A chaplain was expected to be as nearly proficient as the men and officers for whom he preached and prayed. Chaplain Ritchie requested and was temporarily assigned to Fort Benning's Parachute Training Course ("Jump School"). After the Jump Master ordered Chaplain Ritchie "first-out the door" each time from five low-level flights, Ritchie qualified for his "Jump Wings" (Parachutist) in December 1968. He returned to Ft. Bragg for more water and night jumps with the 50th Signal and the 82nd Airborne Division. In March 1969, he could feel the orders to 'Nam coming his way. But first the Green Berets [Special Forces] at Ft. Bragg taught him combat rope repelling as an additional skill. Vietnam combat tour orders arrived.
During Chaplain Ritchie's combat tour of duty, an entire 365 day year inclusive of travel, he found that The Vietnam War was entering a phase of boiling conflict due to the facts that the 1968 Tet Offensive was actually a defeat for the North but was creating an unwarranted distress at Home by anti-war sentiment. Chaplain Ritchie also learned that the Second Tet Offensive in February 1969 had caused "heavy losses" for the Light Infantry Battalion for which he was assigned starting May 1969. Immediately his "all" was in demand, and he had no time to waste. His men were full of courage mixed with conflicted feelings. Most were "draftees" from every state and station-in-life who represented truly the "finest of young men" intensely trained as Infantrymen whose duty was to follow the combat orders of their officers and experienced sergeants leading Combat Companies comprised of Platoons divided into Squads. Chaplain (Captain) Ritchie was assigned to be Battalion Chaplain for the Army's 1st Battalion 52nd Infantry [1/52], 198th Brigade, Americal Division [23rd] and reported for duty at the remote Fire Support Base [FSB] named LZ Buff, shortly renamed LZ Stinson. He went into combat unarmed and without a chaplain assistant willing to accompany him. This proved to be his situation for all the coming months until his completion of his Vietnam tour in May 1970. He served his Light Infantry Battalion's fighting units Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, and Echo Combat Companies plus men of the direct-fire support Artillery Battery entrenched at Fire Support Base Stinson. Chaplain Ritchie chose not to locate and operate from the safer "rear areas" where Headquarters Company was situated. Rather he chose to operate closer to combat "on and off the Hill" [FSB] six days a week giving Worship Services throughout the Battalion's AO [Area of Operation] in Quang Ngai Province between the river Song Tra Bong to the North and the river Song Tra Khuc to the South and extending West toward Laos into triple-canopy forested mountains. This AO was for his men and officers to protect and defend constantly. Therefore, Chaplain Ritchie constantly depended on support helicopters ("Choppers") Choppers to fly him into and out of hostile territory one operating combat company at a time [week after week]. Saturday evenings he would be choppered to "the rear" to meet with his assistant, and conduct Sunday services of worship for the men of Headquarters Company in a little wooden chapel, then he choppered back over miles of hostile territory to land Sunday evening back on FSB Stinson (referred to as Landing Zone Stinson) to sleep in his own underground bunk. The same demands for the coming week "on the hill and out to his fighting companies" might seem routine but not so. He constantly earned and met with the respect of "his men". Each time he was welcomed and his words proclaiming Scripture [Old Testament and New Testament] were received by many of his men but his prayers were for every man in his battalion. On numerous occasions he would stay (night-laager) overnight with his field-combat companies sharing threats of hostile gunfire and booby-traps which far too many times maimed or killed his men. From March 10, 1970 until April 30, 1970, he was reassigned 'in-country' to be the Chaplain for the same chopper unit which had been providing all of his "field chaplain-visits" since May 1969. He was 14th Combat Aviation Battalion's chaplain and for them too he gave both worship and memorial services as he had always done "on the Hill". Many of his men of both battalions died during his 1969-70 year. The giving of memorial services in honor of each man was his to perform in Godly and Christian reverence. All the bodies recovered were secured and flown back "Stateside" to Dover Delaware. For him nothing was "routine". His trust in His Lord always sustained his words, heart, and soul. For 365 days he served. His accomplishments of that one-year of Combat Duty brought unsolicited awards authorized before Captain Ritchie returned Stateside (USA) with orders to report to Fort Dix Army Post in New Jersey USA. He became a Brigade Chaplain for the 3rd Basic Combat Training Brigade in June 1970. His highly productive 2 years of ministry for thousands of basic trainees at Fort Dix proved to be the completion of his active-duty US Army Chaplaincy on July 2, 1972.
Mr. Ritchie explains that the Americal Division's 'in-country' policy was that chaplains were not to risk Combat duties "in the field of combat" more than six months, then they were to be reassigned for a "position in the rear" for their second six months. However, for reasons known only to the Division Chaplain at Americal Headquarters "in the rear", Chaplain Ritchie fulfilled his 12 months of combat duty "in the field of combat", and he did so without complaint. Actually he served the positions of two chaplains "in the field". His explanation is:
"Well, my soldiers and chopper crews needed the Chaplain Ritchie they had come to know was willing 'to pay the cost' even if his Christian ministry for their sake meant my daily risk of death or injury in combat serving faithfully at their side in the field. For most of them duty required an unrelenting 12 months of combat as an Infantryman. Should I have been any different?"
At this point it is appropriate to list Chaplain Ritchie's Combat Medals and other awards:
A) 'The Bronze Star Medal' (1st) awarded: GO 11551 HqAmcal Div [see all below on his DD 214].
B) 'The Bronze Star Medal (2nd) with First Oak Leaf Cluster: GO 2436 HqAmcal Div.
C) 'The Bronze Star Medal (3rd) with Second Oak Leaf Cluster: GO 4074 HqAmcal Div.
D) 'The Air Medal' by GO 371 HqAmcal Div.
E) 'Vietnam Service Medal' with 2 Overseas Bars by AR 670-5.
F) 'Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal' by AR 672-5-1.
G) 'The Army Commendation Medal' (1st): GO 4075 TC 439 14th Combat Aviation Battalion.
H) 'The Army Commendation Medal' (2nd) by Citation 3rd Basic Combat Training, Fort Dix.
I) 'Letter of Appreciation' 23 June 1972, Colonel Theodore J. Charney, Fort Dix.
J) Captain's Insignia of Two Silver Bars (O-3).
K) Army Chaplain Corps Insignia Shield.
L) Protestant Christian Silver Cross (Lapels).
M) Parachutist Badge & Airborne Cap-Insignia.
Then a truly tragic event on October 10, 1972 brought Mr. Ritchie and his family into those thousands of families who have lost a Loved One to the ravages of The Vietnam War. Mr. Ritchie's Brother, a Navy LT JG Flight Officer, died Stateside in the crash-dive from 2 miles high, into the ground, of the Douglas A-3B Skywarrior strategic aircraft-carrier bomber out of NAS Oceana crewed by Lieutenant Junior Grades: David H. Grant, Jeffrey R. Haushalter, and Ronald Brian Ritchie (reference: Aviation Safety Network Wikibase Occurrence #220620 last updated 13 December 2019). All 3 of the crew were killed as a result. Mr. Ritchie could do nothing but bear sorrow and the horrible loss with his elderly Father, Mother, and Sister-In-Law. His Brother's remains were ashes retrieved from the crash crater. Therefore, his Beloved Brian was buried in a special section of Arlington National Cemetery with the Navy's high internment Honors. Mr. Ritchie's painful memory is that in 1970 when he had just returned from Vietnam, he had swiftly traveled to his Brother Brian's Commissioning Exercise, Naval Aviation Officer Candidate School (OCS), Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida, where highly-decorated Chaplain Ritchie had had the privilege of handing his Brother his Flight-Certification as well as pinning-on his Brother's Ensign Bars (officer grade). His Brother's active flight duration had been only from May 29, 1970 until his death on October 10, 1972. Let it not be doubted that Mr. Ritchie has often and to this time returned again and again to the Headstone Site #35/4469, Arlington Cemetery, the Memorial of LT JG Ronald Brian Ritchie. Mr. Ritchie has only this one sibling.
Within only a few months from concluding his Army Chaplaincy, Mr. Ritchie visited his law-mentor Marvin Shoob, founder of Shoob, McLain & Jessee, who had last seen Mr. Ritchie off in September 1966 to Boston. In a short conference, Mr. Shoob rehired Mr. Ritchie; and thus after almost 7 years, Attorney Ritchie was once more practicing Construction Law in the Georgia Superior Courts and the Federal Districts Courts of Georgia. Mr. Ritchie's Georgia Bar Number #606700 remained in effect then as it continues to be his Bar ID even into 2019-2020. All the admission certificates activated in May 1966 remain in effect. In fact, Mr. Ritchie practiced law from 1973 straight on into 1978 when his ranking in the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directories was elevated to highest, "AV". That was a goal met by many trials conducted by Attorney Ritchie. Not to let "grass-grow-under-his-feet" Attorney Ritchie gained an even greater M-H Ranking as published nationally in the "Martindale-Hubbell Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers 1995 Seventy-Ninth Edition". In fact, Attorney Ritchie enjoys the sought-after title "Preeminent", and he has done so until now (2020). Therefore, Attorney Ritchie has been AV since 1978 and "AV Preeminent" from 1995 until now (M-H sent a reconfirmation of his status in September 2019). Attorney Ritchie holds yet another title demonstrating worthy evidence of his decades of honest and reputable practice of law for the sake of many many construction-industry clients. That title is evidence of his spotless record with The Georgia State Bar, the title is "Emeritus Attorney". To hold Emeritus Attorney status from 1966 until 2020, a continuous period of 54 years means there has never been finding of blemish or disciplinary action authorized against Attorney James B. Ritchie (anyone can check his Georgia Bar #606700 status).
Concluding Note: Anyone reading this authorized "Press Release" by Marquis Who's Who will find that Mr. Ritchie, except for the impact of his brother's untimely death, has not brought family or private personal matters or subjects into this text. That omission by James Bowers Ritchie III is entirely intentional. If the reader wishes to obtain any relevant information on him, then reference may be made to published materials of his Profile made public at his permission to Marquis Who's Who.
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