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
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.