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April 8, 2005
From Emma Nelson:
Walter LeRoy Nelson, Navy, Gunners Mate 1st Class went into the service January 1942. Served in Alaska aboard the Ship “Detroit” for 2 years when the ship was taken out of Commission. He was then stationed in Tacoma, WA, from March to November, where they built a new Mine Sweeper that he would be on to Okinawa, Dec. 1944 to 1945. He came back to Oroville, where his parents lived. He then came back to Seattle WA. where we were married, November 30, 1945. We were married for 56 years. He was an Oroville Postal employee for 37 years. After retirement his hobby was wood carving.

From Article by Staff Sgt. Jerome Baysmore CENTAF-Forward Public Affairs - MSgt Jesse B. Hipes Jr. Story in Saudi Arabia, Former Edwards Commander survives Saudi Gun battle in which Jesse played a part.

July 2, 2004, Lt. Col. Ed O’Neal and Lt. Col. James Broome were in a coffee shop, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia when their compound was attacked. “Combined Air Operations Center’s Joint Search and Rescue Center operators were watching the news when they learned of the event.” ‘We had seen this compound had been overrun, and we knew we had some individuals there,’ said Master Sgt. Jesse Hipes, JSRC superintendent, ‘We started looking at one another and wondering who these people were attached to.’ Capt. Steve Simone, JSRC Combat Rescue Officer, agreed with Sergeant Hipes. ‘We didn’t know their names,’ he said. ‘We were monitoring the situation from the Joint Search and Rescue Center here, and we had a pretty strong feeling these people might require a debriefing and reintegration, formerly known as repatriation.’ The 23-year Air Force veteran Sergeant Hipes explained they had tapped into all their resources and those of two different liaisons, and they were still uncertain about the chain of command for the individuals. But the bottom line was they were working to get them back. While the JSRC staff worked, Colonels Broome and O’Neal located the roof access, filled a couple bottles of water and took the four third country nationals up to the roof. The roof had a lid type door, and they used a toolbox and some concrete blocks to barricade it. The team alternated between using the cell phone calling for help and waiting for answers. They had been on the roof form 9 a. m. to 8 p.m. – in Saudi Arabian heat – rationing water between six individuals with no food.

The Saudi minister of interior forces called about 8 p.m., and said they had the terrorists isolated on the sixth floor of the other hotel tower, and the rest of the compound was under control. At the time, the team agreed to come down. ‘Colonel Broome was about four or five feet behind me,’ Colonel O’Neal said. ‘I had to go to my left to open a steel door that goes out into the street. I had just put my hand on the door when a guy opens up with a machine gun. The bullets were whizzing over my left shoulder, and I could hear this high-pitched ‘bumblebee’ sound,’ he said. ‘To go from absolute quiet to a machine gun firing at you at full automatic is pretty terrifying,’ he said. ‘Frankly, it’s the first time I’ve been shot at, and it’s pretty real – you get a lot of experience in a short period of time.’ Colonel O’Neal said he knew both he and his partner, Colonel Broome had been shot. From where he was, he heard Colonel Broome cry out and run back up the stairs while Colonel O’Neal hit the ground, and low-crawled back down the corridor. He found an area to lodge himself between a notch in the wall and a stone post. He pulled his knees into his chest and tried to conceal himself. Colonel O’Neal had bullet fragments in the side, forearm and shoulder blade and later learned Colonel Broome was hit in the upper left arm. After about two hours, a Saudi defense official approached the area and, called out for Colonel O’Neal and took him to an ambulance. He was placed in a room by himself and the only things he kept asking were: Where was his partner Colonel Broome and when was he going to be there? The last time he heard anything from Colonel Broome was over two hours prior. Colonel O’Neal explained that Colonel Broome had sent him a text message after the attack asking him if he was okay, but Colonel O’Neal admitted he wasn’t good at text messaging and he didn’t return an answer. Two hours late, Colonel Broome was brought into the hospital, and the two-man team reunited.

Stu’s Notes; I went to Oroville High with Jesse Sr. the class of 1958. We see each other around town and now we have something in common. We both have children that are serving our Country well. Debbie is going on 23 years in the Army. Walter was one of the lucky Sailors as we know so many died at Okinawa. Remember to call or write Congressman John T. Doolittle. Encourage him to work hard on that grant money. Thank you again Emma, and Aux. 1747 VFW for our largest donation so far.