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November 21, 2008

Oroville Mercury Register
August 16, 1945
8 Suspected Japanese Balloons Reported Here
Eight possible Japanese bomb carrying balloons were sighted over Oroville vicinity during April, June and July. E. P. Biggs, state forest ranger, disclosed today. Although not all of the objects sighted were proved to be balloons, local military authorities said it was definitely established that some were. Confirmation was not obtained, in some instances, because once the objects moved out of this area, check was taken over by other authorities. The balloons were reported on the following dates; April 17, over Table Mountain: June 11, over Oroville High School; July 4, over Hurleton; July 11, over Oroville Army Air Field; and on July 17, four balloons over Gridley. Two of the four seen over Gridley were later observed by a forest ranger stationed at Sunset lookout near Enterprise. The ranger told Biggs that while watching the two balloons he heard a loud explosion. Turning he saw a flare that lit up the hillside followed by clouds of smoke and dust. Biggs, Sheriff Forward and army officers carried on a four-day search for the four balloons but found no trace of them.

Information from Don Uren, son of Jack Uren
Jack enlisted in the Army Air Corp in October of 1941 before the war started. He was trained at Dothan, Alabama and Denver, Colorado. He was in the 13th Jungle Air Force which was part of the U. S. Army at that time. The Air Force was made its own Service in 1947. Dad lived and fought on these Islands: Pago Pago, American Samoa, Wake, New Guinea, Espirito Santos, New Hebrides, Biak, New Guinea, Bougainville, New Hebrides, Manus, Molucca’s Islands, Rabaul, Solomon Islands, Munda Moucca’s Islands ; Mindanao, Philippines, Leyte, Philippines. While living on these islands Dad’s crew was bombed by the Japanese and he spent many nights in a foxhole. While in the Philippines he would hop on a B-24 Liberator and hitch a ride over China where they bombed Canton and Shanghai. He served in the South Pacific almost 3 years. His job title was Armorer, (loading bombs in planes). He reached the rank of Staff Sergeant. The 13th Jungle Air Force was part of General MacArthur’s Island hopping campaign. He was awarded 9 Battle stars with an oak leaf cluster, and good conduct medal. When the war was ending and he was due to go home, he was in two runway crashes on the same day, so instead of getting on a third plane, he took a boat which took 3 weeks zigzagging back to the Golden Gate, San Francisco. He was discharged at Camp Beale, Marysville, California. There is a book written by the 13th’s commanding officer that details exactly what the 13th Jungle Air Force did. I say it is a book waiting to be made into a movie. The Uren Brothers, Harold, Jack and Vernon are OUHS graduated and all served in WWII.

Stu’s Notes: Wow, I and many kids roamed the hills around Oroville as we grew up. Who’s to say that one of these balloon bombs are still out there in the hills waiting to be disturbed by an unsuspecting person. It did happen in Oregon in the 40’s; a lady and 5 children died I grew up here and never heard a warning about these balloon bombs. During WWII it was top secret. I think the Japanese released 9,000 of them.

The Uren brothers, three more of Oroville’s forgotten heroes. Thank you Lillian for this story from Don. There has been so much feedback on my stories, I don’t know where to begin. Stan Huston, my long time friend tells me Jim Keyes was his cousin, his Mother was a Huston, another family of Oroville Heroes. John Dunn, who I wrote about two weeks ago, who drew cartoons for the Army, was well known in Oroville long ago. He became a well known cartoonist in Hollywood. I will have to write more next week. Somewhere in Oroville there should be a display of his work. Fay Anglin tells me he lived on Park Ave. and his Dad worked for Western Pacific at the Round House. I talked to his brother, Alvin Dunn who lives in Oroville. John enlisted the day after Pearl Harbor. He volunteered to go over seas. But was kept out of the fighting because of his eye sight (I can relate to that) on the Rifle Range he hit the target good, but it was the target of the man on his right. Alvin also went into the service, he graduated Oroville High School in 1944 and served in the Navy, then went to Chico State and became a teacher and taught at Helen Wilcox School and according to my notes which are hard even for me to read, I think Alvin was the Principal there. Phil Ravert just walked in my door with more on John Dunn, maybe next week.