A Man Called Jarhead
Continued, third and final part.
Ned Harrison, and old Oroville Dam Worker and Retired Laborer, and
mostly a hard rock Miner gave this story to me.
“They must have dragged me three or four or five hundred yards,
and then they got over a little hill over there…and you could see
where they dug out a little tunnel.” There, his wounds were bandaged
and he was given a cigarette, even through he didn’t smoke then.
Steege credited that fact that he was captured by the Chinese and
not the North Koreans with why he is alive today. “If the North
Koreans had got me they would have killed me,” he said. After being
given first aid, Steege was put on a stretcher and taken further
behind the lines in a large mountain riddled with tunnels. An officer
interrogated him, but oddly, Steege said, his questioner wanted
to know more about what Steege had done in the United State than
what military information he might have. After an over night stay,
he was carried back to another field hospital. About seven days
later, a doctor operated on his wounds and set his broken arm. The
operating room “was another cave in a big, old mountain” lighted
by gas lanterns with no X-ray machine or other medical equipment.
Despite the crude conditions, the doctor did an excellent job setting
the bone, Steege said. In fact, when he returned to the states,
doctors told him they were surprised at how well it was done.
Unaware the war was in the process of ending, Steege joined other
wounded prisoners who were put aboard trucks and taken “way up north”
to a POW hospital camp. As before, they were treated reasonably
well, Steege said, but conditions were far from luxurious. Their
captivity finally came to an end several weeks later when they were
returned to South Korea as part of the general exchange of war prisoners
between both sides. While still in the country, Steege underwent
surgery to repair nerves damaged by the gunfire, then was eventually
transferred back to the United States. He was discharged from the
Marine Corps on February 1, 1954. Afterward, he eventually became
a tunnel construction worked, a job that turned into a career that
took him to construction projects throughout Oregon and elsewhere.
Due to illness, he retired, commuting between Arizona in the winter
and summer in Oregon.
Oroville Mercury Register
January 8, 1953.
News From Oroville Men In The Service
Army Sgt. Frank S. Kawasaki, son of Mr. and Mrs. Toruharu Kawasaki
of Route 1, Gridley, is returning to the United States under the
Army’s rotation program after17 months in the Far East. He served
in the 1st Cavalry Division, which spent 17 months in
the front lines of Korea before being assigned to security duty
in Japan late in 1951. Kawasaki, a member of Company L of the 8th
Cavalry Regiment, has been awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge,
UN Service Ribbon, Korean Service Ribbon with three campaign stars
and Army of Occupation Medal for service in Japan. He entered the
Army in February, 1951.
Paul J. Cafferty
Serving aboard the destroyer USS Yarnall in the Far East is Paul
J. Cafferty, machinist’s mate, fireman, USN, son of C. W. Cafferty
of Pomona Avenue, Oroville and husband of Mrs. Bridget Cafferty,
formerly of Honolulu. Arrangements were made for one fourth of the
crew to spend three days at the Japanese scenic national park, Mount
Fuji, during the Christmas holidays. Before her arrival in Japan
for the holiday season, the Yarnall completed four weeks of duty
with the Formosan Patrol. After the leave and recreation period
is completed, the Yarnall is scheduled to operate as part of the
escort and blockade force off Korea.
Stu’s Notes: I worked with a lot of those Hard Rock Miners on
the Oroville Dam, they’re quite a hard workin and livin’ bunch.
They would go anywhere to find a hole in the ground. We might have
a volunteer project manager for our memorial. I sure hope we get
some people at both Memorial Day Services. I know this town can
do better than it has lately. Maybe if we went back to the real
Memorial Day not so many would be gone for a 3 day getaway. With
the price of gas what it is, why not stay home in good old Oroville
and enjoy the day honoring the Heroes of our town, they gave so
much for all of us.
I have heard of the 1st Cavalry Division
before, seems they are always in the thick of things. I sure hope
to see everyone at the Oroville Cemetery on Lincoln Street at the
Memorial Day services, May 26, 2008, at 11:00AM. And then at the
Green Bridge for a brief ceremony including the Thermalito Nelson
Avenue School Band, a possible fly over, around 1:00PM. Followed
by a BBQ lunch at the Veterans Memorial Hall on Montogomery Street.
Donation $6 for adults, $2 for children under 12. Offered by the
American Legion Post 95. Chairman of this event is Vene Thompson.
For more information please call Joan Lee at 589-1058. Presented
by the Oroville Veterans Memorial Park Committee for all of Butte