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October 28, 2005
March 24, 1944

Armed Men Write To Old Tutor
Rotarians listened Monday to a cross section of a high school principal’s correspondence with men in the armed services and found in it touches of philosophy and humor. Some of the writers were grateful for their schooling. Others were wistful, wishing they had chosen better.
The summation by the speaker J. C. Nisbet, demonstrated that Oroville Union High School is well represented both by ex-students and teachers in the greatest of all wars. Topping the list was Maj. Gen. Arthur Wilson, who has been promoted twice-from colonel to brigadier general to major general-since the war began. Nisbet read a resolution of commendation spread on the Congressional Record by Sen. Truman, referring to Wilson in highest terms as liaison officer for the Truman investigating committee just before Wilson was advanced to brigadier general and assigned to organize the service of supply for Gen. MacArthur in the South Pacific.
There was the letter from 1st Lt. Eugene Boehme, student in the school 3 years ago, who led a company of marines in the invasion of bloody Tarawa. “Our position was never precarious…Marines never think along such lines…but it was a hot spot. Guadalcanal was bad enough but could not compare with Tarawa.” Evan Hughes, well remembered here, wrote of being now “on the biggest newest and best battleship in the world.” He hoped he was on his way to the spot where he could be of aid to his fighting brother. “I wish I had taken 5 different kinds of language,” he wrote. Touton J. Anderson, who taught for 2 years here about 10 years ago, is in rural England, possible readying for the great invasion. He seems to have got possession of a hen, which he has farmed out to a farmer. He collects the occasional egg and has the eating right to the hen when the proper time comes. The city men of England are distant through friendly. The farmers are different. “Buy him a beer in a pub and he’s your friend right away.” Anderson has nothing but admiration for the English and their superb confidence that they will win through despite all difficulties. Henry Boussy, former teacher, himself a Frenchman, is an oddity to the Frenchmen he meets because he, an American, can speak the language. He is a captain in the U. S. air corps. Eating in England is “a masterpiece of getting along without.” “I have given up warm feet for the duration.” He tells of lowly beans, potatoes and boiled rice served on silver dishes. Cpl. John Thomas, who attended school here for three years, then graduated in Marysville, is in Iran helping to keep the line of supply open to Russia. “Hot. Gets up to 150 degrees. Sand flies, typhus, Disease is as bad as bullets.” Earl Baker, a seaman 2nd class in the U. S. Navy, wrote 8 days out of new York: “I have used math in the past 5 months more than I ever expected. Tell them all to take more math. It is the only thing that holds me back.” Johnny Aleck is a radio operator in North Africa, and must be “on his toes every moment” or he will give information to the enemy. “They think we soldiers are rich. Racketeers here are stringing us.” A serious note from Johnny: “When we hear about strikes back home we feel pretty bad. There had better be no strikes when this outfit gets home or there’ll be hell to pay.” “Please tell all the students to take all the math they can get. It’s all I need to get ahead.” To be continued next week.

Stu’s Notes: I saw Ernie Reynolds recently, he has some fantastic tales to tell as a Merchant Marine Seaman after WWII and right before the Cold War with Russia and China. I hope to get a story from him soon. His bother Richard, who attended Oroville High in the 1930’s, was lost at Sea as a Navy Seaman. It was just before Pearl Harbor. Richard Rodney Reynolds of Yankee Hill served on the USS Wasmus. As I have said before the Merchant Seamen finally received their just due from our government, for their gallant services to their country. I think Richard deserves a special honor in our Memorial, as he gave his life serving in some dangerous times and places, just days before the war was declared. Our men were dying in many far off places before the war. China, France, and England and they deserve to be honored in their hometowns. J.C. Nisbet was the Superintendent at Oroville High School when I graduated in 1958. I hope I can find more of his letters of our Oroville Soldiers. Last weeks story of Maj. Rabo of Chico left me in wonder if he survived the crash of his B-17. Well he did as did his Co Pilot, Medal of Honor Recipient Lt. John Cary (Red) Morgan. Thanks to Mary (Long) Andrews, I talked to his son Mike Rabo who lives in Durham. We will meet soon and get the “rest of the story”. I want to thank Feather River Recreation and Parks District for their recent help on our POW/MIA ceremony and our Spaghetti Lunch.