Former journalist and local veteran to share poetry

Roy Ringer wrote a poem honoring all veterans, which he will read at City Hall on Thursday. Heather O'Quinn / TMT

Roy Ringer, who served in World War II, makes appeal to support troops.

By Ryan O’Quinn/Special to The Malibu Times

Malibu resident Roy Ringer admittedly has always had a knack for journalism. His writing career has taken him around the world and his latest passion, poetry, is being honored by the Malibu Seniors Citizens Center during a tribute to Veterans Day.

Ringer was contacted by the senior citizens organization to write a poem to honor all veterans at the Veterans Day Public Ceremony in Malibu, and the 86-year-old World War II veteran took on the challenge.

The poem, titled “On Veterans Day,” touches on each of the wars and conflicts the United States has been involved in since World War II, and makes an appeal to support the troops currently serving in Afghanistan and Iraq and bring them home safely with open arms.

“No matter what you think about the war, we have to bring the troops home,” Ringer said. “I remember when I came home [from World War II] we went into San Diego and we had the colors flying high from our masthead and the crowd was on shore to meet us.”

Ringer joined the military in 1942, and said he went to the Federal Building in downtown Los Angeles to join the Navy, but the lines were too long so he ended up in the U.S. Coast Guard.

“I had a date at noon that day, so I walked out and there was a sign that said ‘Join the Coast Guard, 11th floor, no waiting’,” Ringer said. “I went up and that was it. In one day I had my physical and the whole thing.”

The following Monday, Ringer went to boot camp on Catalina Island and eventually was stationed aboard a submarine chaser known as PCC-469, where he served as quartermaster on the bridge.

“My active service was in the Pacific on a sub chaser, which had an unusual distinction,” Ringer said. “We sank the last Japanese submarine of World War II. The entire sixth fleet was in the harbor [near Okinawa] with carriers and everything. About a mile off the coast we picked up a perfect submarine contact on the bottom. We immediately contacted Saipan to see if it would be any of our submarines in the area. We learned later that the captain of that submarine was lying in wait over there, waiting for something to come out.”

Ringer alleged that his military service was neither exciting nor very impressive and said he was glad when the war was over and he returned to his fervor for writing.

“There are a lot of men in Malibu who had tremendous careers in the service,” Ringer added. “It was really not a very dramatic career for me. Our ship was in Okinawa and the Philippines. It was mostly routine convoy in the Pacific.”

Prior to enlisting, Ringer had become infatuated with journalism and the newspaper business. During high school he worked as the high school correspondent for the Huntington Park Signal and was hired as a sports writer and city hall editor after graduation.

After brief periods at the Southeast Bulletin and Santa Barbara Independent newspapers, Ringer’s writing was put on hold until after the war. He then returned to the business and worked for the Daily News and eventually as an editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times.

Ringer has enjoyed a fascinating career and has traveled around the world covering news stories as well as writing for various political campaigns. Ringer was noticed by California Governor Pat Brown, who hired him to write speeches, and also worked in Washington as a writer. One of Ringer’s last political assignments was to write for Robert F. Kennedy. Ringer was present at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles when Kennedy was assassinated on June 5, 1968.

Ringer ended up in Malibu, not unlike the events that led him to join the Coast Guard, because of a girl. Ringer met his wife Vivian Sharp while he was working as a copywriter at the Daily News. Sharp was a society writer for the newspaper and they made regular trips to Malibu because Sharp enjoyed the restaurants that overlooked the surf.

“We first came here in 1959,” said the Point Dume resident. “We rented first and we really liked it, then we bought on the beach.”

Later in his career, Ringer was a ghostwriter for two books for Pierre Salinger, the former press secretary for John F. Kennedy. He also lived in France, in England in the home of Virginia Woolf and in Israel where he worked on documentary films alongside Charles Guggenheim. “We’ve had a marvelous life,” Ringer added. “We have traveled and lived all over the world.”

In the next month, Santa Monica College will publish a book of Ringer’s poetry titled “Anchovy and the Pelican,” taken from one of the poems.

Ringer will read his poem, “On Veterans Day” at a ceremony commemorating the occasion at the Fourth Annual Veterans Day Public Ceremony at 11 a.m. at Malibu City Hall on Stuart Ranch Road. For more information on the event call 310.456.2489.