Richard A. Holmquist

1925 - 1988

Korean WarWWII

Their Story

Richard A. Holmquist was born one of seven children in Moline, Illinois. Holmquist began work at the John Deere factory in Moline after three years of high school. He then enlisted in the army when the United States entered World War II. He was shipped off to Europe with the 8th regiment of the 1st Cavalry Division. He was quickly put into the demolition squad and the canine corps (he was later able to return home with his service dog).

Holmquist was able to return home and continue working at the John Deere factory. When the United States was once again thrust into a war, the Korean War, Holmquist enlisted into the army in 1950 at the age of twenty-five.1 Holmquist was shipped off to Korea in the fall of 1950. After a couple of months, Holmquist was fighting in Unsan, Korea. Things ended up taking a turn for the worse. Three men around Holmquist were injured and they were all out of ammunition while surrounded by enemy forces. Holmquist was bravely attempting to rescue the other men when he was forced to surrender.2

Holmquist was sent to Camp No. 5 at Pyoktong, Korea. Holmquist would end up spending close to three years in the prison camp. In the camp Holmquist worked as the camp’s carpenter which allowed him to survive, and not be moved. This did not save him from the cruel punishment from his captors. Holmquist’s family found out he was captured by smuggled letters.3 While being held in the camp, Holmquist received letters from all over the country from people who had lost their own family members fighting. Holmquist was released in 1953, under Operation Big Switch, which was the repatriation of all remaining prisoners of the Korean War.4

Upon his release, Holmquist was able to read and write back to all of the people that sent him letters. The letters he sent back brought comfort to many people who had lost their husbands, sons, or nephews. The letters that were sent to Holmquist became a treasure he held onto till the day he passed away in 1988.5 Holmquist returned from Korea and worked in the John Deere plant for twenty-seven more years.


1 Richard A. Holmquist – Veterans Legacy Memorial

2 National Archives Veterans’ Service Records

3 “Illinois and Iowa Men on Communist List of Prisoners”, The Rock Island Argus, 19 Dec 1951, Wed · Page 10

4 “Cpl. Richard Holmquist of Rock Island Freed In Prisoner Exchange”, The Rock Island Argus, 11 Aug 1953, Tue · Page 1

5 Index Record For: Richard A Holmquist – Social Security Death Index