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December 16, 2005
Oroville Mercury Register Aug. 26, 1943

Tells of Torpedo Attack on Vessel How They Initiate at the Equator

Home for a brief vacation between voyages, Dan Beebe Jr., of the U. S. Merchant Marine, is looking things over in the engraving department of the Mercury, where he was chief until six months ago. Beebe entered the Marine service last January and since then has seen some exciting times in the dangerous waters of the South Pacific. He told briefly of one torpedo attack that lasted until about noon and said that he was so interested in seeing everything that went on that he didn’t become frightened. Destroyers protected the merchant ship and it escaped un-hit. The Merchant Marine’s traditional “initiation at the equator” provides a high spot in fun for the crews, according to Beebe. He told of one initiation, photographed by a magazine cameraman in which a picked group of “old hands” attired themselves as members of the “royal family,” from the King and Queen to the royal baby. Initiates were commanded by the “crowned heads” to do every sort of ridiculous feat. During their performances, the unfortunates were required to salaam repeatedly. Each bow brought forth a vigorous whack with the flat side of an oar, on the candidate’s stern.

The finale at the ceremony came when the exhausted rookies got a good wash from the deck hose in the hands of enthusiastic initiators. Beebe escaped all this because he had crossed the equator several times previously when there was no initiation and held a card to that effect. Beebe, as all merchant men do, declares that the Merchant Marine is the best branch of the service. He will ship out again after a short visit here

Oroville Mercury Register September 21, 1943.
Wear a Star In Honor for Him
Are you one of the many thousands who are wearing Stars of Honor to show their pride for each relative or close loved one in the forces of Uncle Sam? If not, join them today! Tell the world how your heart glows over the patriotic willingness of those men in the service. Wear a Star of Honor for each of them. These little emblems, expressive but tastefully inconspicuous, are made of sterling silver. You may obtain them at the Mercury office for 28 cents each; by mail for 30 cents each, the added cost to cover postage and handling. (Stu wonders if any one still has one of these little stars.).

Stu’s Notes: On last week’s plane crash, with a little history of my experience with the Willcox Family that lived on the hill of Nelson Avenue west of 12th street. Mrs. Willcox, a wonderful lady would invite my brother Larry and I in to play with her boys. Her house was kind of a stop off point for us as we roamed West Branch Creek (Ruddy Creek as the map shows) and the Sugar Loaf Hills (Campbell Hills on the map. The Willcox family moved there in the ‘30’s. Malcom, one of her older sons tends to the place now as his mother R’Dell has passed on at the age of 99. Brother Steve also lives close by. Mrs. Wilcox’s sons and daughter have gone all over the country to earn their fortune (so to speak). They went on to high positions in their work. As I like to say, “Thermalito Kids” that did well in life. Any way, Malcom tells me that the planes that flew out of our Airport (a military base during WWII) would often circle over their house. His mother would always wave to them, one in particular had a plexi-glass nose and she could see the pilot well. He would dip his wing to her (probably a B-25). She always wondered if he survived the war. On that summer night of August 24th she heard a plane in trouble, she knew there sounds and she called her children out of the house. The plane was flying low over their house, it dipped down and almost crashed west of Ruddy Creek, it managed to rise up, but could not clear the south end of the Campbell Hills and crashed in a ball of fire. The young pilot, a hero to me, and I hope to all, died there on the west border of Thermalito. In Aug. 1943 I was 2 years old and living in Pennsylvania, by the time I got here and old enough to know, this plane crash, as many other’s here, were forgotten. The next day, Malcom recalls an officer and Sgt. Drove up to their house to see what they saw. He seemed to not believe Mrs. Willcox’s story and in their conversation he used cuss words. Mrs. Willcox told him if he said one more bad word, she would wash his mouth out with soap. Malcom said that the Sgt, behind the Colonel, broke out in a big grin and you could see he wanted to yell, do it, do it. I suppose we will never know what really went wrong with the plane. I’m thinking the Col. wanted to blame it on the young pilot, not a mechanical failure. This is probably the crash site that Peter Gibson and other kids picked up small pieces of the plane. If you have a piece and would like it to be imbedded in our memorial let me know.