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November 14, 2008

Oroville Mercury Register
June 1, 1945
Pfc. Duncan Helps to Kill Nine Japanese Behind the Lines

With the 32nd Infantry Division In Northern Luzon, P.I. - No one had better call Private First Class Franklin G. Duncan Rt. 2, Box 73, Oroville (Calif.), of headquarters company, 114th Engineers, 32nd (Red Arrow) Infantry Division, a “base commando”. Although headquarters company ordinarily operates with the division’s rear echelon, the mechanics, clerks, cooks, etc., who make up the company feel they have now qualified as combat soldiers. Here’s what happened.

One bright Philippine morning just at breakfast time came word that a nine man Japanese patrol was approaching the company area, despite the fact the company was 15 miles behind the front lines. Volunteers, Pfc. Duncan among them, raced for their rifles and moved out across the rice paddles to meet the Japanese patrol. The Nips, observing a stronger force approaching, chose to retreat. They led the Yanks a chase for several miles across the paddles until they came up against a river bank where some trees provided battle cover. Pfc. Duncan participated in the pitched battle which followed. Net result – nine dead Japanese, four wounded Yanks. Which is the reason why guys in Headquarters Company, 114th Engineers, don’t like anyone to make cracks about “base commandos.”

S/Sgt. Charles W. Sharp, 30 year old sheet metal shop foreman from Oroville assisted a fellow worker, Cpl. Eugene Mondellow, San Francisco, in riveting a section of the tail assembly of a B-17 Flying Fortress at an Eighth Air Force bomber station in England, Sharp is the son of Mrs. Maude V. Sharp of Orange Avenue. He is a member of the 493rd bombardment unit of the third air division, which was cited by the President. The citation was given for the England to Africa shuttle bombing of Messerschmitt aircraft plants at Regensburg, Germany. Sharp was employed as a wenchman for the Yuba Consolidated Gold Fields before entering the army in March, 1942.

Voice of People (Letter to the editor)
Stresses Need Of Jobs For Returning Veteran Editor
I listened to Ralph Heinzen, a war correspondent who really knows what he was talking about. One thing he said was particularly interesting to me as a veteran of two world wars, and should be important to the people of Oroville and the United States. Several times Heinzen said that one reason for Hitler’s great following among the Germans was the large number of “unemployed war veterans.” We will face a similar danger unless returning veterans are assured jobs. Will the veterans be disillusioned as were those of World War I? If things go on as they are now I think they will be. In Oroville there are no available jobs for veterans. Yes, I know that on the streets you hear of them but let the veteran try to get the elusive job and all he gets is a free trip on the local merry-go-round. I am not pleading the cause of veterans who can return to jobs they had before the war, or of those whose folks can employ them in their own business. I am pleading for those who never had jobs who entered the service from school. Is the condition that gave Hitler his start to exist here? We can let the veterans wander around hitting their heads against a brick wall when they turn to the Right, or let them turn to the Left, where they will find an open door to welcome them into the arms of communism. Another alternative is, why worry, we will be in World War III in 12 or 15 years. The answer is to see that jobs are available to all returning veterans. This can be done only by intelligent planning. One way would be to get some large firm to build here and employ several hundred people the year around. Only by suitable employment can we keep the line marching Right. Which way will Oroville have the veteran turn? Right? Left?

William H. Gaylord
Army Gets Last ‘Shot’ at Cochran

Sgt. Herman J. Cochran and two of his comrades at Chico Army Air Field are here as they said good bye to their staff sergeant and to army life. The men were the first three from CAAF to receive discharges under the over 42 directive. Cochran, former assistant manager of the Bank of America here, had been in the army for two and a half years.

Stu’s Notes: William H. Gaylord’s (Hero of two wars) letter could very well apply to today. We must have good jobs for our many returning Veterans. Many students of our local high schools in the 40’s, Chico, Gridley, and Oroville joined before they graduated, too many never came home. Lynn and I met William’s son in Alameda. He was a docent on the WWII Aircraft Carrier, Hornet.

Mr. Cochran, Mr. always to me, was a long time family friend of ours. He was a pillar of our Methodist Church in Oroville. He put on the Methodist turkey dinner for over 50 years I wished I could talk to him now about the CAAF and about the 40 young men who died flying in and out of there. Oh by the way The First United Methodist Church Turkey Dinner is coming up on November 8th. I hope to see you all there. Elaine Klein is the cook again this year. It used to be the Men’s Turkey Dinner, but now it is mostly the ladies who do a big part of it. This is not intended as a commercial, or is it?