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September 2, 2005
Oroville Mercury July 21, 1944, June 28, 1944

Members of the Eagles Lodge and their wives will meet at their regular surgical dressing class tonight at 7 p. m. at Memorial hall. At the last session the group made 1500 four by four dressings. The Red Cross project has been carried out by the lodge for many months.

Looking Backward from the files of the Mercury and register
Another of Oroville’s war heroes returned last week in the person of George Thurston, who went through every great American salient during the war without receiving a scratch. He has the proud distinction of reaching France with the first army…..

Little story of Daily life
Lt. James Griffith, base adjutant at Oroville Army Air Field, took his initial swim at Bed Rock pool in a manner he hadn’t expected. Attired in his flying suit over his bathing trunks, the lieutenant was standing on the riverbank and was watching the aquatic pursuit of a group of air-field men. An attractive girl approached Griffith saying she had a special request to make of him. “I would so like to have my picture taken in a flying suit, lieutenant,” the girl said. “I’d like to send the picture to my boy friend in the service.” Quite willing to be of assistance in bolstering the morale of the absent boy friend, Griffith acquiesced. He took off his flying suit. The next thing Griffith knew he was several feet under the cold waters of the Feather River. “I’m sure sorry, lieutenant,” a sergeant said after Griffith had returned to shore, “we didn’t know it was you. If we had seen your bars we never would have thrown you in.”

Lt. Benson In Chico After Italy Service
Lt. Norman L. Benson, formerly of Oroville, arrived at his home in Chico Tuesday after completing 56 successful missions over Italy as chief pilot of a B-25 bomber. Lt. Benson told of an exciting incident when the hydraulic system of his bomber was shot out by enemy fire and the bomb bay doors opened making it necessary to release the bombs by hand before they exploded in the wrong spot. He said that his bombardier, Lieut. Edward Penn of Texas climbed down released a bomb while they were being engaged by the enemy in the air and from the ground over Italy. The Texan was awarded the soldier’s medal for his act of heroism. The bomber pilot said that his buddy in Italy, was a doctor who spoke Italian fluently. Because of this, Lt. Benson said, he really enjoyed the Italian people and had a fair time in Italy. Lt. Benson entered the service in April 1942 at San Francisco, by enlistment directly into the air arm of the army. He received his commission and wings at Roswell, New Mexico

Marine’s Sacrifice Earn Honor Medal
WASHINGTON (U.P.) The Congressional Medal of Honor has been awarded posthumously to Marine Sgt. Herbert J. Thomas of South Charleston, W. VA., who threw himself on a grenade to save his companions during fighting on Bougainville, the Navy has announced. The 25-year-old sergeant, who was killed in the Koromokina river area on Nov. 7, 1943, deliberately threw himself upon one of his own grenades, which had ricocheted back into his group after he had thrown it.

Air Corps Captain, WAC Lieutenant Wed
Captain William Paule and Lt. Eleanor Burkholder, both of Pennsylvania, were married in a simple ceremony Friday at 7:30 p. m. at the Congregational Church parsonage here. The Rev. Mr. F. E. Carlson performed the rite. Captain Paule, a pilot, is stationed at Oroville Army Air Field with the 400th fighter squadron. His bride, public relations officer in the WAC, is on leave from Craig Field, Ala. The couple will spend their honeymoon in Oroville. Major and Mrs. Paul M. Brewer Jr., attended them at the wedding.

Stu’s Notes: George Thurston, Oroville Hero who served his country well in WWI, home in 1919. We don’t know much about the Oroville men who went “over there”. We know of 7 that died during 1917-1918 from Oroville, thanks to Jan Rose Bales. Who was that pretty girl that caused the Lt. to be thrown in the water? Did she marry her boyfriend, or maybe the young Lt.? Somebody knows the “rest of the story”. I asked myself, could I do what that young Marine did to save his buddies? I don’t know. In our wars many went “above and beyond the call of duty” less than 500 in WWII were awarded the Medal of Honor. Oroville has strong ties to two of these men both awarded posthumously. You can read their stories on our web, as I have written about them over 2 years ago in this column. Thanks again to Daryl Autry for a web site that keeps getting better and better.
Founding Committee member Darby Miller is home now mending from Open Heart Surgery. Darby is tough, surviving the tail end of WWII as a 17 year old kid (his words) who grew up fast. You might have seen the movie of the rescue of American POWs in the Philippines. 60 years ago this week Darby was involved when they brought in the POW’s from other camps, Camp O’Donald and Billabeen, two of the worst Prison camps of all times. Darby helped set up temporary hospitals at Luzon for them. One young seaman was killed unloading. Darby’s words, the prisoner brought in looked like walking skeletons, eyes sunk in all suffering from terrible diseases, rags for clothes, you could count all their ribs. All were under 100 lbs. By morning 31 had died, they stayed alive for one day of freedom. Soon they were put on the Hospital Hope and Mercy. As they were brought out in small boats, because of lack of a dock. The nurses lined the rails and waved, this meant so much to the men who hadn’t seen girls in 3-4 years. Darby would not let me use his name if I didn’t say that he was no hero, just did his job. Well, to me they are all heroes all that served our country well.