February 10, 2006
Oroville Mercury Register
“SOME GAVE ALL”
February 13, 1920 Oroville Mercury Register
OROVILLE VETS OF BIG WAR HONORED
Four French Memorial Death Certificates for Oroville Veterans who
sacrificed their lives during the great war, have been received
by Frank Mitchell, temporary secretary for the Oroville Post of
the American Legion. The certificates are beautifully designed,
bearing the name of the soldier in whose honor it is presented.
As an expression of the gratitude to this country thousands of similar
certificates are being sent to every section of the United States
where they will be presented to parents of deceased soldiers. The
four memorial certificates sent to Oroville bear the names of Thomas
J. Lucas, Silvarta Morrison, John Toland and T. J. Kelly. (This
article was found by committee member Joan Lee (Van Campen))
This story is by Committee Member Daryl Autrey from an interview
with Frank Stowell:
Frank Stowell wonders aloud why he has lived this long, nearly 87
years. His only sister, Marie, did not. Her life was lost in the
Sacramento River at Colusa as she tried to save a swimmer from drowning.
She was only 20. Jack, his only brother, did not live long. At 21,
he was lost on the USS Huston in WWII. Frank’s brother and sister
were taken so young that Frank has lived most of his life without
them and still wonders why. He figures
that perhaps he was given the years that were taken from his siblings.
Water played a fateful part in the destinies of Frank Stowell’s
On May 27th, 1937, after graduating from Colusa High,
Frank married his high school sweetheart, Gerda, and moved to Oroville
to live near the Feather River. A year or so later Frank’s parents,
Frank and Edna, would settle near Yankee Hill. The younger Frank
shared his father’s love of fishing. The two of them fished avidly
and were champion fly-casters.
In June of 1938 Frank’s younger brother, Jack, was finishing high
school in Colusa. He excelled as a sprinter, setting a still-unbroken
record for the 100 yard dash at a 1937 track meet in Gridley. Jack
Stowell graduated from high school and left Colusa to live in Oroville
with his brother and sister-in-law, Frank and Gerda.
Jack and Frank spent the long hours of 1938’s summer fishing on
the Feather River. Their fishing together ended later that year
when Jack enlisted in the Navy. Frank drove his brother to Southern
Pacific’s Sacramento depot to catch the train to Navy Boot Camp
in San Diego. Out of basic training, Jack was assigned for a while
to the USS Pillsbury, DD 520. The destroyer Pillsbury was a four-stack
ship launched in 1920, after the end of WWI . Jack returned to Oroville
for the last time early in 1940 when he was given Liberty before
shipping out from Mare Island on a heavy cruiser, the USS Huston,
Jack Stowell sent letters home regularly, written in pencil and
sealed in small envelopes, proudly bearing the USS Huston’s postmark.
In his letters Jack complained of harassment by the Japanese Fleet.
Often they outnumbered the Huston and her escorts had to hide from
aggressive Japanese warships. This was the end of peacetime for
a neutral America. Before Jack’s enlistment was up, Japan’s hostility
precipitated the end of America’s aloof foreign policy with the
infamous bombardment of our ships and planes at Pearl Harbor in
the last month of 1941.( to be continued.)
Stu’s Notes; We are saddened by the passing of Patti Meyers.
She helped so many people in so many ways. One of her projects was
a yearly Talent Show which she did for many years. The last two
years it was for our Oroville Veterans Memorial Park. She worked
so hard on these shows. She had first class acts. The shows were
amazing. She will truly be missed by so many. Her Fiancé, John De
Ree, a new friend of mine was by her side in these many events for
so many years. I feel bad that it’s taking so long to finish our
Memorial, especially for those who have helped us and haven’t lived
to see it! One benefit is that every year that goes by we find more
names to honor. After 5 years the list is quite long. We have never
found any list anywhere of those that died, up to the Korean War.
Vietnam, yes it was recorded but the list we found was not complete.
Also the list of those that died in plane crashes around our community,
thanks to Daryl. Many of those we found were by hard research and
with God’s help, by putting us in the right spot at the right time.
Some people call it a coincidence, I don’t. Thank you, Joan Lee
for this recent information.