Those pausing to remember our fallen soldiers today may want to venture to a small cemetery at the intersection of West Alejo Road and West Chino Drive to pay respects. It’s there that the first burial of a Palm Springs resident who perished in World War II took place 74 years ago.
A first for city: Platoon Sargent Earle Pinckard, who saw action in almost every major Marine engagement in the South Pacific, was laid to rest in the cemetery on May 29, 1948. Pinckard was 25 when he was killed in action while leading his company assaulting the city of Garapan, on Saipan on June 24, 1944. Of more than a dozen young men from the city who perished during the war, his body was the first to be returned from overseas and buried in the city, at the Welwood Murray Memorial Cemetery.
- “It is the least we can do in honor of this man that we dedicate the hours of the final rites over his remains to a solemn remembrance of his sacrifice and the sacrifices of all who like him fought our battles for us.” — Palm Springs Mayor Charlie Farrell, 1948
- The military funeral for the young war hero was presided over by a chaplain from March Field and a reverend from Banning. Veterans of WWI and WWII preceded the funeral procession from the American Legion to the cemetery, escorting the flag-draped coffin with the military guard of honor. A bugler paid taps and a final 21-gun salute was fired.
Of note: Ryland Pinckard, Earle’s father, was a respected carpenter in the city who, according to historians, underbid others in order to secure a contract to build the Wars Memorial Building which houses Palm Springs American Legion Post 519 off North Belardo Road.
- Sadly, Ryland passed away about a month before Earle was brought home. However, he knew his son would be laid to rest in the city. Today, a gravestone at the cemetery marks the final resting spot of Ryland, Earle, and Susie Mae Pinckard, Earle’s mother and Ryland’s wife.