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March 3, 2006
Part four of “Oroville’s Not-Forgotten Veterans Frank and John ‘Jack’ Stowell” by Daryl Autrey. (We left off last week with Frank Stowell still on the USS Isherwood, a picket ship)

Death came to visit the Isherwood and her crew while on a picket station between Japan and Okinawa. A Japanese suicide plane found them and hit a gun mount just aft of the ship’s stack. The gun mount tore loose and went over the side, taking out a 20mm gun below. Frank was on his way to his Gerneral Quartes station and hesitated, held back by the intense heat of the blaze where the kamikaze plane had struck. The ensuing fire set off a depth charge stowed nearby, blowing a hole down through the deck, and right out the bottom of the hull. The blast slammed Frank against a 20 mm gun turret. His legs were injured, but he could still walk, barely. The ship was taking on water somewhere below and bodies were everywhere.

Some of his shipmates were still alive among bodies and body pieces. The ship’s doctor appeared next to Frank and asked him, “Do you know anything about medicine?” “I used to be a butcher,” Frank replied. The doctor’s Pharmacist Mate was dead and the ship’s only doctor needed an assistant. No one else would volunteer. “OK”, the Doc said. The doctor quickly filled as many syringes with morphine as he could and handed them to Frank. “If you can inject these for me, I will work the other end.” Frank saw his friend, Ol’ Pappy Werars, lying badly burned and trying to die. He was so cooked Frank couldn’t find a place to stick the needle of the syringe. He found a place under Pappy’s lifejacket, where the skin was intact, on his chest near the left arm. Pappy died. For forty-eight hours Frank and the doctor helped the living and separated the dead, gathering up pieces as they found them. They never rested or ate. What was left of the dead was buried at sea. (to be continued.)

Stu’s Notes: I had a nice lunch last week at Oroville’s Country Crest, very good what a nice place. Also at our lunch was John Schulz, Post Commander 2813, Amvets, he is also one of the leaders of the Chico Veterans Memorial which should be finished soon. He gave me some pointers on raising money. He said Chico has been very supportive. Alma Chaika and Kelly Birchfield of Country Crest have for several years now, been gathering stories of our Nations Veterans. They have been very good at it. Ranking #2 in the Nation second only to Ohio. I think they cover as far North as Redding. Las Plumas has been helpful in the past and they are trying now to get Oroville High School on board. What they do is train high school students to document the veteran’s stories. They use video to do this. It is a fantastic way to inform our younger generation of how much we owe to the men and women who have served in our armed forces. Their stories will be stored forever in our nations Library of Congress. Taken from Veterans History Project pamphlet “A message from James H. Billington, the Librarian of Congress. ‘We owe our wartime veterans a profound appreciation for their sacrifice and service to our nation and its future. We also owe all our citizens an opportunity to appreciate and honor those men and women who have protected our nation in the gravest of times. Together, with the help of all Americans, we can honor our war veterans and create a lasting body of documentary materials that will inform and educate our citizens in the decades ahead.’” “The Veterans History Project encompasses veterans of World War I, World War II, and the Korean, Vietnam, and Persian Gulf wars. By “veterans,” we mean all veterans, men and women, those who served in war and in support of combat operations, all ranks in all branches of service- the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and the Coast Guard. We also include the Merchant Marine, those involved in home front activities and citizens who supported the armed services. “ “The U. S. Congress voted unanimously for legislation to create the Veterans History Project on October 27, 2000 through Public Law 106-380. Congress recognized the urgency of collecting wartime memories, which become more precious as the number of veterans dwindles by 1,500 every day. Congress also saw the value of engaging the American Public in its own history. Today’s generation and future Americans have much to learn from those who served. A national collection of personal histories on audio and video tape as well as letters, diaries, maps, photographs and home movies will be of immeasurable value to historians, educators, student, authors, filmmakers, and family members.”

If you would like to share your story please contact: Alma Chaika at Country Crest, 55 Concordia Lane, Oroville, CA 95966, Tel: (530)533-7857 Fax: (530) 533-7887 TF 1888-704-3004, Email: achaika@countrycrest.org