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April 11, 2008

Fall of 2007
James Crow’s Story provided by his Oroville nephew, Eric L. Zancanella, Lieutenant Colonel (Ret) Transportation Corps, U. S. Army Reserves
James Crow’s story concludes:

Chief Crow accompanied the detachment to get some samples of the “bugs they had been spraying for”. In the process the patrol got into an extended jungle firefight with the enemy in a narrow draw about 50-60 feet across, but the attackers were defeated and dispersed. After participating in this defense, Chief Crow got busy helping to patch up the few Special Forces and Montagnards casualties.

After nearly a fortnight of “bug hunting” out of Ba To, Chief Crow was sent back to DaNang honored with a 5th Special Forces Group Green Beret, and "an invitation to come back ANY TIME". Crow’s son, Guy Crow, still has the 5th group, Green Beret locked safely away.

James Crow’s only sister and her family (June and Bruno Zancanella) followed the Crows to Richmond, California in 1946, then to Thermalito in 1949. June and Bruno’s two oldest sons, Eric, and Dick, also served in the Vietnam War. Dick Zancanella crossed paths with his Uncle James Crow during 1966 processing at Treasure Island before shipping out on the aircraft carrier Constellation, his first of two Navy tours to Vietnam.

Senior Chief Crow at that time was back from Vietnam and assigned to the Naval Dispensary at 50 Fell Street in downtown San Francisco. While Zancanella waited to be transferred out, Crow made life a little easier for his nephew by arranging a week’s worth of work details for him at the dispensary under Crow’s supervision, rather than Zancanella working more difficult details on Treasure Island. Though Zancanella was eager to get going on his new Vietnam assignment, his Uncle James reminded him that he would be real busy soon enough, and that he should enjoy this little “gravy train” assignment while he could.

James Crow retired from the Navy in 1968, in California, and lived with his family in Mill Valley, and later, Bethel Island, where his wife, Ann, died shortly before he passed away in 2005.
Crow’s children spoke of their father’s thoughts on his military service: Crow did not want medals “Just for doing his job,” and “He did not like the fighting and the killing, but he was always proud that as a Hospital Corpsman, he was able to save lives and help others”.

James Crow’s words seem to echo the sentiments expressed by generations of seasoned military servicemen. Though veterans can accept gratitude for war service, they can be touchy about being officially rewarded. Some have responded to their involvement in grisly, disgusting, unspeakable acts in combat, unacceptable in civilian life, with the statement, “Don’t thank me, it’s my job!”

Oroville Mercury Register August 16, 1943
“Some Gave All”
Manzanitan Is War Victim
Wallace E. Lester, 27, radioman 1st class of the U. S. Navy, was killed in action recently in the Mediterranean theater of war, according to word received from the war department by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Allen M. Lester of the Manzanita district, near Gridley. Lester attended Manzanita school and Gridley high school. He joined the U. S. Navy in April, 1937, and began a second enlistment in 1941. He was sent to North Africa to join a staff of the amphibious force of the navy. In a recent letter to his parents he wrote that he had been recommended for promotion as chief radioman.

Stu’s Notes: James Crow did his “Job” quite well, we can all be very proud of him. Thank you Eric for sharing his story with us. It makes me feel good to have known his family. I’m proud of the fact that one of the few parades in Thermalito started in my field here on 6th street years ago to honor retiring family member Mr. Bruno Zancanella, my teacher, principal then superintendent of Thermalito Schools in the 1980’s . I knew him back in my grammar school days. He was a very kind and honorable man. So busy, so much to do and my pen doesn’t have much to say tonight.

I thought I had done this story on Wallace Lester, but I can’t find him in Daryl’s index, so I guess not because Daryl is quite thorough. Although he does have him on the WWII Gridley-Biggs list as having been killed in action. This is what little we have about him. I hope to find more about this young Hero who died so long ago.

Things will soon happen on the Veterans Memorial Park. Stay tuned.