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December 1, 2006
RECOLLECTIONS FROM ARMY DAYS, by Robert C. Brooks (continued)
When we were in Texas we saw lots of horned toads. Johnny Amaro couldn’t stand them for some reason, and didn’t want them near him. In the field one time I thought I would have some fun by putting one in his mess kit before we lined up for “chow”, to see what he would do. We lined up alright, and when Johnny opened his mess kit he let out a yell and threw his mess kit away. I began to think it wasn’t so funny. Johnny was angry, and began accusing some of the fellows he thought would do that. He was good sized and strong – had worked on a dairy near Hanford and had big strong arms and hands - enough to make people leery on an angry Johnny Amaro. He looked about ready to let somebody “Have It”! I called to him and said, “Johnny, it was me”. He came over to me – I was a little “nervous”- but he just said, “Brooks, I never thought you would do anything like that”. He just turned and walked off. I felt so small and mean that it took me some time to talk to him again. We were still good friends, but I told myself to never make practical jokes like that again.

In September 1944 we started for the “E.T.O.”; European Theater of Operations. Our division arrived by trains at Camp Shanks, New York, the Port of Embarkation. We packed into barracks while clothing and equipment were checked and rechecked, examinations given, and passes were given to New York City. Some of the boys took their last “fling” in the states, and came back singing and noisy. When the night came that we boarded the “Empress of Australia”, every man was loaded with all his equipment; that is, overcoat was worn gasmask and pack strapped on, weapon slung over the shoulder, duffle bag carried, and those who had instruments carried them. It was tough getting up the gangplank, and then down the stairways into our space, which was smelly and crowded. Our company was in one compartment on the bottom deck, “F-2”.
Stu’s Notes: The 65th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor is coming next Thursday, December 7th. Flags should be flown at half staff that day. There will be a service in Gridley that has been going on for many years. The public is invited to the Fairgrounds at 9:55AM at the flag pole in the center of the fairgrounds. There will be only about 10 of us, maybe, plus 5 news people. Maybe more will come this year. Feather River Chapter 25 of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association will be the hosts. There will be 15 or 20 of the survivors and their wives. I’ve heard they lost one or two more this last year. I was only 14 months old on Dec. 7, 1941, so I don’t remember the attack. My Uncle Paul F. Shaner was born on December 7, 1915 and Dec. 7, 1941 he was golfing in Montana,(must have been cold) with two Marine recruiter friends. When they heard about the Japanese attack he said they took him to their recruiting office and without any ifs, ands or buts signed him up. This gave him a 30 year career as a Marine. He was in 3 wars, WWII as a tail gunner in a B-25. He was shot down once. In Korea he was a combat photographer and in Vietnam he ran a TV. station for the troops. I am named for him, my given name is Paul Stewart Shaner. My mother called me Stewart after my Scottish Ancestors.

The Oroville Mercury years ago predicted the Japanese attack. For my new readers I wrote December 10, 2004 an editorial by Dan L Beebe Editor and Publisher and George Wangclin, City Editor, November 25, 1941. It is hard for the people to believe that we are about to be at war with Japan, but all signs point to it. The editorial went on to say we would be at war within a month. Wow, Dan Beebe should have told the President. My brother, Walter (Larry) Shaner, while in the California National Guard in Oroville in 1956, threw a big gopher snake around the neck of his Sergeant while in the field. The Sergeant was afraid of snakes, Larry got a lot of K-P.