Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class | United State Navy Reserve
Served: 6½ Years
February 1, 1939 to December 5, 1942 – Cincinnati Police Division
July 23, 1941 to November 21, 1941 – Ohio State Patrol
December 5, 1942 to May 14, 1945 – United State Naval Reserve
Earle was born July 23, 1917 in Romney, West Virginia to Rev. Earl H. and Cotesworth P. (Schull) Biddle, Sr. The family moved to Cincinnati and Earle’s mother died when he was five years old. His father remarried to Allice M. Nutick about 1928 and Earle went on to graduate from Withrow High School.
At 21 years old, he joined the Cincinnati Police Division on February 1, 1939 and was assigned as a Motorcycle Patrolman in the Highway Safety Bureau. On July 1, 1940, he transferred to District 2. He resigned on July 23, 1941 to join the Ohio State Patrol, but returned to the Department four months later on November 21, 1941. He was also reinstated as a Motorcycle Patrolman with the Highway Safety Bureau. A United States Naval Reservist, Patrolman Biddle was called to active duty on December 5, 1942. He was sent overseas during December 1944. By May 1945 he was a Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class attached as a Hospital Corpsman to Company C of the 1st Battalion, 1st Regiment, 1st Division of the United States Marine Corps.
In the Battle of Okinawa, the United States military invaded the Ryukyu Islands in what was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific Theater of World War II. United States land forces included the Tenth Army, commanded by Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., which included 81,000 Marine Corps personnel in the 1st and 6th Marine Divisions. Buckner launched an attack on May 11, 1945.
On May 14, 1945, the rifle platoon to which Pharmacist’s Mate Biddle was attached was engaged in an extremely bitter firefight when two Marines were severely wounded from enemy machinegun fire. One of the men attempted to crawl to safety but was hit again by enemy fire. Despite the warnings of his comrades, Pharmacist’s Mate Biddle left his covered position and ran forward into the line of hostile fire to administer first aid to the wounded men. After bandaging the first man’s wounds and dragging him to safety, he went forward into the face of the machinegun and sniper fire to treat the second wounded man. He was shot and killed during this attempt.
Patrolman Biddle was the only Cincinnati Police officer to die in World War II.
Patrolman/Pharmacist’s Mate Biddle was survived by his wife, Mary Elizabeth Biddle, daughter, Joan Biddle (3), father, Reverend Earle Biddle, Sr., and Stepmother, Alice M. Biddle. His father presided over services at the Oakley-Hyde Park Christian Church where he was, at the time, Pastor. He was buried in the 1st Marine Division Cemetery, Kadena, Okinawa.
On June 17, 1945, the President Harry S. Truman announced the posthumous award of a Silver Star to Pharmacist’s Mate Biddle by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity against the enemy, based on the recommendation of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas.
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Other veterans returning to the Cincinnati Police Division, during 1945, opened an all-police American Legion Post with 110 members and named it for Patrolman Biddle.
During 1948, his body was disinterred (along with all U.S. military personnel) from the 1st Marine Division Cemetery and re-interred in Section A, Site 1440, Zachary Taylor National Cemetery, Louisville, Kentucky. Six members of the Earle H. Biddle Jr. American Legion Post 582 attended the ceremonies: Lt. William F. Burks, Sergeants Arthur Mehring and Emmett M. Lyons, and Patrolmen William Lienhardt, Fred Schoenbaechler, and Raymond Pratt.
During May 2014, Pharmacist’s Mate Biddle was inducted into the Ohio Military Hall of Fame.
Patrolman Biddle is the first of only two Cincinnati officers to have died in military action; the other being Police Officer Campbell in 2005 in Afganistan. On April 24, 2010 Cincinnati City Council revised Cincinnati Municipal Code §306-40 to include that police officers who died in combat should have their badges and badge numbers retired. On October 17, 2014 the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society requested Cincinnati Police Chief Blackwell to retire Badge Numbers 146 and 394 in honor of Patrolman Biddle and Police Officer Campbell; which he did. Police Officer Anthony Bischoff, a 10-year veteran of the Department, upon hearing of his badge’s historical association with Patrolman Biddle, voluntarily surrendered Badge 146. On June 18, 2015, 70 years after the heroic event and death, Chief Blackwell presented Badge 146 to Patrolman Biddle’s daughter, Joan Ries.
This narrative was researched and revised June 19, 2015 by Cincinnati Police Lieutenant Stephen R. Kramer (Retired), Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society President, with assistance from Patrolman Biddle’s daughter, Joan Ries. All rights are reserved to them and the Greater Cincinnati Police Historical Society.