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November 10, 2006
More from “Recollections From Army Days” by Robert C. Brooks

During Tennessee Maneuvers our Machine Gun Section got “lost” in the hills a few times. We took advantage of those times and stopped at farmhouses, where we were treated to fried chicken and biscuits. Tried to pay, but the people refused to accept. We did slip some money under the table cloths. The training and field maneuvers were for a serious purpose, but even so, funny things did happen. A password and countersign were used quite often. Security and guard were always stressed. Lexie Baker and I were on outpost one night, and had set up at the edge of some woods, looking out over a field covered with tall grass. Our password and countersign that night were “Black –Beetle”. In the dim light we made out someone walking through the grass, getting close to our position. When he was about 20 feet away Baker said, “HALT!”. He stopped, so I said, “Black”, expecting him to reply, “Beetle”. Instead, he muttered a second, then said “Vertical!”. With that, we knew it was Johnny Amaro, our company runner. (to be continued)


Tells of Hardships Soldiers Suffer; No Luxuries In Foods
Letters now reaching relations of men who participated in the early days of fighting on Guadalcanal are still echoing the tragic shortage of food and equipment which resulted in so much hardship there. One such letter has been received by Mrs. C. L. Fike of Oroville. It was written by her stepson, Lieut. Col. Charles F. Fike of the United States Marines, who was recently decorated for “meritorious and distinguished service” in his leadership of a group of marines on Guadalcanal. Lieut. Col, Fike writes, “In five months we had meat four times. We had no eggs and no milk. We were so short of equipment that we lost many of our flyers. I saw two carriers go down for lack of proper defense.” Lieut. Col. Fike’s letter also told that Major Smith, who had a big story in Life magazine, had been under his command on Guadalcanal. He wrote, “I was disgusted with the story. It made us look like heroes and kept the public from realizing what actually happened.” The letter revealed that Fike and his men had flown more that 3,000 wounded out of Guadalcanal in big transport planes, losing only a few of them by death. Fike wrote that he guessed he had got his share of Japanese. When he received his decoration it was revealed that he and his men had destroyed 21 enemy bombers, 39 Zero type fighters, 2 cruiser type seaplanes, 2 destroyers, 1 light cruiser and 1 transport.

Stu’s Notes: I have written about Sam Broadnax before, way back in Feb. of 2004 - and quite recently. At that time I didn’t know he was still alive. But Bob Hewitt found him through the internet and Bob Jackson invited him to ride in our Veterans Day parade tomorrow also he will be at out Veterans Hall afterward. He became a Tuskegee Airman and he is “Oroville’s Own” and represents the many African-Americans that fought. Under very adverse conditions they prevailed and saved many lives flying out of Italy in WWII. Pictured above as a very proud Army Airman.
Guadalcanal had some of the worst fighting in the war. We were ill equipped, far from our supply lines, out numbered, out gunned but not out fought. Seems that our fighting men never considered themselves heroes. Many say those that died are the Heroes. True they are, but Thousands of Heroes lived, it just wasn’t their time to die. They did what they were trained to do, many went above and beyond the call of duty, Many never got a medal because of the strict procedure to issue medals. Only God and they know what they did.
The Grand Marshall’s of the Veterans Day Parade tomorrow will be Betty Boyle Davis, WWI (her father, Frank Boyle, fought in WWI), Sam Broadnax representing WWII , Bob Simpson, Korea, Rodger Brown, Vietnam, Jonathan Taylor, Dessert Storm Iraq, Douglas Shaw, Afghanistan, Ken Baker, Iraq, 2004.The parade in the morning starting at 11AM. Saturday night there will be a dinner to support the Oroville Veterans Memorial Park up at the Municipal Auditorium. It is being put on by Bob Sharkey and Crew of the Feather River Recreation and Parks District. It is at 6:30pm the cost is $25. per person or $40 per couple. I hope to see a good turn out at both events.