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April 25, 2008

From a local artist Machelle Conn

"Many children regard their parents as heroes. I felt that way about my Dad. To me he seemed a quiet hero – dependable, honest, hard-working, a not-to-much-of-a-fuss guy. It wasn’t until Dad was in his 70’s before I learned that he was a genuine hero. I found that he had been awarded the Silver Star during World War II. Bragging was not in his character. He didn’t talk about the war. He was like many of his generation, who kept to themselves the horrors they knew first-hand. My father, Earnest H. (Bub) Brown, was born in Chico in 1930. He was living in Paradise with his parents when Pearl Harbor was bombed. At that time he was working for the California Department of Forestry. Bub joined the U. C. Marine Corp. on September 2, 1942. After the war, he returned to Paradise and to CDF. In 1956, Bub, his wife Gloria and their three kids moved to Oroville. He completed a 34 year career with CDF while living in Oroville. Gloria died in 1971. He and his second wife, Mary Ellen Moak Brown, built a house in Yankee Hill over looking Paradise Ridge. They named their street Buzzards Roost. Bub died in 1998. He is buried in Paradise next to his parents.”

The Chico Enterprise, May 5, 1944

Pfc. Earnest Brown, Paradise Marine Gets Silver Star for Work on Tarawa
“For Gallantry and intrepidity during action against enemy Japanese forces in Tarawa.”
Marine Private First Class Earnest Harold Brown, 23, of Paradise, was awarded the Silver Star Medal at the Marine Barracks, U. S. Naval Supply Depot, Oakland. He braved Japanese mortar, machine gun and rifle fire at Tarawa, in order to get reinforcements to fill a gap in the front line. The medal was presented him by Marine Major J. R. Barreiro, Jr., commanding officer of the Marine detachment at Oakland, in the name of the President of the United State. The citation was signed by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, commander of the United States Pacific Fleet.

The citation read: “For gallantry and intrepidity during action against enemy Japanese forces in Tarawa, Gilbert Islands, November 20 to 22, 1943, while serving with the Second Marine Division. He, a company runner, without regard for his own personal safety, ran the length of a pier which was under heavy mortar, machine gun and sniper fire, to guide a platoon which was urgently needed to fill a gap in the front line. Returning to the front, he continued to dispatch messages for the following two days. Many of these messages required passage across the airstrip which was exposed to machine gun and sniper fire. On a return trip to the command post he was wounded, but refused to accept first aid until the ammunition and supplies, with which he had voluntarily loaded himself, were delivered to his unit. His initiative and heroic devotion in duty were in keeping with highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.” Witnessing the presentation ceremony, marked by an informal guard mount, were the Marine’s mother and an uncle, Marine Captain Eugene Bradford, officer-in-charge of the Marine Detachment on duty at Fleet Post Office, San Francisco.

Pfc. Brown, who was shot through the left hand at Tarawa on November 21, spent some time in hospitals overseas and at U. S. Naval Hospital, Oakland, before assignment to guard duty here.

Stu’s Notes: What a beautiful sight, to stand on the side walk of what used to be 2400 Montgomery and see our Table Mt. and the river over the rise and the Historical green bridge. Close your eyes and envision a beautiful grassy spot with benches and walk ways and granite stones to honor our heroes who have been long forgotten and flags flying in the breeze and people moving about quietly. That is coming soon, sooner if the good people of Oroville and Butte County realize what a small group has been doing for the last 7 years. It takes money, bottom line, oh sure we could apply for more grants etc. But as the editor of an area newspaper once wrote, A Memorial in a community is not the same if it doesn’t have community involvement and he is right. Now it is time for the people of Butte County to come forward and see this most wonderful project come to the finish line. Years from now they can say to their children and grandchildren I had a part in the Oroville Veterans Memorial Park for All of Butte County.

At the recent Supervisors meeting Bill Connelly and I thanked various people who have helped directly on the clearing. In the future there will be more people to thank. Today I want to thank 3 men that were there 8 days, all day. Wayne Brock, the man on the fire hose, Sam Bebout (whose name I have spell wrong 10,000 times) he was all over the site helping where needed and Bill Fox, Videographer and head camera man for the job.

I have known Machelle for quite a while. Her former father in law, Earl Eves gave me a job as an Ironworker on the Oroville Dam 48 years ago. He was a most wonderful boss and taught me a lot as I was a young farm hand knowing nothing about construction. Thank you Earl. Very few Silver Stars are given out. Most of those are posthumously.