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May 23, 2008

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 1
st 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 County.