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January 4, 2008

Oroville Mercury August 7, 1945
Joe and George Mills Meet In Germany
Just before the crossing of the German Rhine, Lt. Joseph P. Mills ran across his older brother, Sgt. George E. Mills of the “Rail splitters’ Division.” It was a red letter day for both of them. Lt. Mills entered the service January 8, 1943 and received his basic training at Camp Haan in the AAAAW 79th Division. He was made a sergeant while at Camp Haan and promoted to Staff sergeant when he was sent to England more than a year ago. He went into action on D-Day and saw action against Germany until their surrender. He received the Bronze Star and was among the first to cross the Rhine. Following the surrender of Germany, he entered the officers candidate school at Fontainebleau where he received his commission. He is still somewhere in Germany according to word received by his wife, Mrs. J. P. Mills of Feather Falls. Sgt, Mills, with the 325th Field Artillery, 84th Rail splitter’s Field Artillery, 84th Rail splitter’s Division, received a Personal Citation of Certificate of Merit for out standing performance of military duty against the enemy in Belgium. A younger brother, Pfc. Rodger K. Mills, is serving somewhere in France He trained in three different outfits before transferring to quartermaster corps so that he could follow his brother overseas. The men are the sons of Mr. and Mrs. George E. Mills, Sr., of Feather Falls.

Claude Howard Serves Aboard Veteran Ship
ABOARD THE USS BIRMINGHAM IN THE PACIFIC- Claude E. Howard, chief sea sonarman, USN, Route 2, serves aboard this ship that can look back on 121,500 miles of fighting the Axis from the invasion of Sicily to the battle of Okinawa. During the Okinawa campaign, she sank thousands of tons of shipping. She bombarded Wake Island, participated in air strikes on Tarawa, took three hits at Bougainville, shelled Shortland Island and hurried her might into the assaults on Saipan, Tinian and Guam, Minanao and Bougainville. Following the battle for Leyte gulf, the Birmingham was damaged for the second time. She had gone alongside the USS Princeton to battle fires resulting from a direct hit. The ships lay in a trough of the rough waters separated by about 50 feet when a terrific blast from exploding bombs and torpedoes in the Princeton rained death on the decks of the Birmingham. After three months for repair the Birmingham steamed out again to take part in the Iwo Jima operation and the battle for Okinawa.

Stu’s Notes: December 31, 2007, As I sit out side on this beautiful north wind day, I think 7 years ago today the Oroville Veterans Memorial Committee’s Co Chair’s were united in a chance meeting, at the Feather River Nature Center. That day I decided to walk down there, and I bumped into my friend Peter Maki, picking up garbage, as he often did. There’s another story in that aspect, anyway, “Hi Peter etc, etc, Peter I need a partner to lead a group of patriotic people to build a Veterans Memorial in Oroville.” Peter very quick answer, “Let’s do it.” I had already talked to Ronnie Scharbor, American Legion Officer about it, while camping at Ft. Bragg, he would talk to the Veterans Groups. I would talk to people I knew about it, but first I had to finish the Oroville Dam Memorial. The Men Who Build Oroville Dam Club was working hard on it at that time. A beautiful Memorial basically shut off to the public soon after 9=11 that Fall. We dedicated the Memorial in May of 2001 and had our very first Veterans Memorial Committee Meeting, June 2001. We have not missed having a meeting on that 3rd Monday at the Veterans Hall in all these years. It seems like a long time but then look at most things that are good and lasting—they took a long time, now we have evolved into the Oroville Veterans Memorial Park For All of Butte County, as it should be as we are the County Seat, A Memorial that will honor All Soldiers through out our Great Land. Especially those that died while in the service of their Country from Butte county and also those that lost their lives while serving in our County and those that died here while in active duty of our Country which you know for a Service Man or Woman is 24/7. This is probably something most memorials don’t do. But we decided to do this years ago, thanks to a very thoughtful committee of future thinking patriotic people. Some say ‘Stu, why not put the park in an existing park?’ Yes this would be easy to do. But Easy is not Good Enough for our Heroes, our Veterans. Beside, THEY NEED A PLACE TO PARK! The Veterans hall has been there since 1937, still no adequate parking. Our Memorial will solve the problem! Could any Mother and Father be more proud of their son’s.

The Mills Brothers, what heroes they went looking for the good fight to save our world and did the job again over here. I know that both Joe and Rodger were Sheriff and Police Officers respectively. There lives briefly crossed mine for a short while I lived next to Joe on Nevada St in Thermalito early in 1960’s. I hardly ever saw him, I think he worked all the time, he did have a well worn trail in his back yard where he jogged. This was before jogging got popular. Rodger, I knew well enough to say Hi. He was a friend of my father and I know he saw some good in me; I was quite a party kid at the time. Once he put me in a cab late at night down-town for the 2nd time that night, he said “Stu that’s it tonight. Don’ let me see you again tonight.” He was a Good Man, I wished I would have got to thank him.

A true Hero of Oroville. Chief Claude E. Howard, sonarman down inside a battleling ship. Just the thought of all the noises of Battle and of getting trapped down there; how did those men survive without going crazy? I will have to hear from my Navy friends.