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May 9, 2003
These stories are about the men and women who went to war so that we might be free.

OROVILLE March 10, 1945


Stram, Warmack and Van Duzer Send Air Mail Letters Home: They're All Right.
First word from Oroville men on Iwo Jima, rock of American courage, has been received today in letters from Col. Richard Warmack, son of Mr. and Mrs. R. E. Warmack, and from Navy Pharmacist's Mate Lawrence Stram, son of Mr. and Mrs. Milo Stram, now of Vallejo. Warmack, believed to have gone ashore on D-day, after having participated in five other Pacific battles, including Saipan and Tinian, told of having seen Pfc. Roger Van Duzer and Cpl. Arlin Rhine. Van Duzer, son of Mr. and Mrs. Valentine Van Duzer of Wyandotte, and Rhine, son of Mr. and Mrs. C. J. Rhine of Oroville, both were believed to have been in the heavy fighting on the island. Neither the Rhine's nor the Van Duzer's had heard directly from their sons today. 'I have lots to tell you," Warmack wrote March 2, in a V mail letter to his parents and brother, Larry. "I haven't received any mail since I've been on the island here, and I sure miss it, especially now that things have cooled down - on the beach anyway. I've had many close calls, but I guess God wants me to get back. I see Roger Van Duzer every day, and we talk, eat, talk, etc., etc. Ha! One day Roger, Arlin and I got together and we talked about everything." He mentioned that he was in his fox hole, and added that "conditions weren't very good for writing." He wrote again the next day, saying he had received pictures and Mercury clippings, a letter from his wife, Faye and other mail. "I didn't see Roger today as he moved to a different position," He said. "He'll come down and look me up again soon, though. I'm sure Arlin went up to the front the other day, so we haven't seen him. Gosh, I'd sure go for a hot shower and clean clothes right now." He got his bath March 5 in the ocean, he wrote on that day, washing his shorts in a steel helmet. "I lost most of my clothes and a few things after I hit the beach, he wrote, "but nothing important except my glasses. They were crushed. I also broke a $7.50 pipe, but I've got another one that came in with the PX supplies the other day. I told Faye I felt lucky to be alive to smoke a pipe and wear glasses.

Stram, who went ashore as a naval pharmacist's mate attached to the fifth Marine Division, landed Feb. 19. One who has been on Iwo and who has seen the battle casualties realizes how true that the "wounded don't cry," said Stram in a letter written from the island Feb. 28. Although several other Oroville marines are believed to be on Iwo, so far as could be learned today, the letters received from Warmack and Stram were the first to reach local relatives from the bloodily contested rock. Stram wrote; "My dearest family: The big battle is nearly over. Though not secured as yet. We spent quite a time on the lines but are now in a rear area resting up. Man alive! How wonderful water felt. Good chow we're now getting. It's like Christmas in July. The boys were wonderful. Did a magnificent job. Quentin Reynolds said the wounded don't cry. How right he is. The good Lord sure stuck by us. Every spare minute has been spent in prayer. I'm sure He heard mine because I came through without a scratch. Don't worry, please. Everything's O.K. I'll write again as soon as possible. Meantime know that I'm all right and thinking of you all every minute. With Love, Lawrence."

The Van Duzers received a letter this afternoon from their son, dated March 4, in which he said he was well. "Have a nice fox hole fixed up and the picture of you and dad watching me as I write this letter," he said. "In the distant part of the island I can hear our planes strafing the Japanese. They can't last much longer. He added that he expected to see Warmack the following day.

Stu 's notes: "Some Gave All " as we know now Cpl. Arlin Rhine loses his life on Iwo, one of almost 6,000 young men, who gave all on that little island. I talked to Richard Warmack recently while his classmates were planning their class reunion. I have been in his store many times, since I was a lad, in the past not knowing a hero owned it I bought my wife and mother gifts from him. It was a neat store.
Wow, what a fast trip, my daughter, Sgt.Deborah Jean Shaner, had for the last 3 months. She has been stationed at Ft. Lewis, WA. Then May 1st I got a phone message, "Hi dad I'm on a plane to Baltimore, I'll call later. "Then a call, "Hi Dad; I'm on the tarmac at the Baltimore Airport. We will be here 2 or 3 hours, but can't get off the plane because we have weapons on board" I think, aren't they the good guys? Oh well, 10 hours later she calls on her cell phone, "Dad I'm in Kuwait. " I asked her what it is like there? "It's dark but we walked through sand to the barracks.” Now I know what so many parents have felt in so many wars. You're proud but also very worried. Debbie is serving with the Yuba City National Guard Unit activated into the Army.