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June 27, 2003
Oroville Mercury August 1943 and some time during the war.

First Lt. Kernick Smith, 34, of the Army Air Forces, a former Oroville resident, was killed in action in the South Pacific, July 18, according to information received here by Mrs. Sarah Cook and Mr. and Mrs. Jay Cook of Thermalito. Word of Smith's death, presumably when a plane on which he was on a reconnaissance mission was shot down, was received from the war department by his wife Thursday noon at her home in Selma, Fresno County. Lt. Smith, who was in the air intelligence service, mapped and checked on results of bombing raids. Although he held a private pilot's license he was unable to become an army pilot because of his age.

He enlisted shortly after Pearl Harbor, trained in Miami and at Harrisburg, Pa. And spent a month in Washington, D. C., before going into action. He had been in the South Pacific eight months. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. Claude Smith, died when he was five years of age, and he was reared by Mrs. Sara Cook of Thermalito and her husband, the late I. H. Cook. He lived in Paradise and Oroville until his third year in high school there. Then he spent a year at Staunton Millitary Academy at Staunton, VA.

At Oroville high school he played football and was a member of the track team. After attending Staunton he entered Stanford University, from which he was graduated as a geologist in 1933. He was an engineer for the Bulolo Dredging Co. in Brazil and was in Alaska three times. Four years ago he bought a 900-acre ranch at Selma and began raising purebred Angus cattle. Lt. Smith had visited in Oroville every few months before his enlistment. He was a member of Oroville Lodge No. 104, Free and Accepted Masons.

George Gilbert, Jr. recently received his promotion from the ranks of first Lieutenant to that of captain in the Army Signal Corps at Honolulu. Gilbert enlisted in the service as a private three years ago. He later graduated from Ga., where he studied radio and wire communications. He received his commission as second lieutenant at Fort Monmouth, N. J. and his first Lieutenant's rating at San Luis Obispo after he had completed four months maneuvers on the Mojave Desert. Gilbert’s wife, the former Maxine Wanson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Wanson of Oroville, is employed in the local office of the district attorney. She is making her home with her parents during her husband's military service. The captain is the son of Mr. and Mrs. George Gilbert of Thermalito.

Private Jimmie L. Keyes, a graduate of Oroville High School in 1942, entered the service Feb. 16, 1943 and was sent to Walters, Texas for training and is now stationed in the Hawaiian Islands. He is the son of Mr. I. Zander of Oakland. Zander was a sergeant in World War 1. Keyes is the grandson Mrs. Carrie Huston, W-A Street and made his home with her prior to his military service. He was formerly employed at a local grocery store.

Stu's notes: Lt. Kernick Smith, young man grew up in Thermalito, walked the same streets I did as a boy, yet I never knew of of him until recently. Why? Why could I not go to a memorial for him? A hero that gave his life us, as the Mercury headlines say. Well, he will not be forgotten in Oroville ever again. Does anybody know anything about this man? Al I have is this newspaper clipping which came from a scrapbook that had been given to George Gilbert. His wife, Maxine let me copy it. More on Capt George Gilbert later. Thank you Maxine.