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May 30, 2008

Oroville Mercury Register
June 7, 1945
In The Fight

Blackie Colony In England on V-E Day

Pvt. Robert (Blackie) Colony was in England on V-E Day at the 1st Base Air Depot at Warrington. An army release said he was one of the crack Air Service command team that pitched into back up the air assaults that helped knock Germany out of the war, repairing and servicing combat planes. Brigadier General Berman commended the group for the amount of work they had turned out and said, “Every soldier, whatever his job, contributed materially to the magnificent, final result.” Colony has been overseas since October 6, 1944. He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. John Colony of Palermo Road and prior to joining the army in January 1944 was employed on a ranch. During his basic training he made high scores shooting infantry weapons and received a medal for rifle shooting.

Stu’s Notes: He came into our town without any fan fair, and he wanted none, probably, one of the most famous men that ever lived in Oroville. All be it only for about 3 months. He was a Fly Boy. A terrible World War was all over the world, the year 1943. These brave young men came to our town to train to be Fighter Pilots, four of them died here. To go into combat, men against men, alone in their planes, equipped with 6 or so machine guns, but remember the other guy they would be dueling in the skies with also were just as well armed. Can you imagine getting into a car in a big flat field and racing at hundreds of miles an hour at each other? With 6 machine guns blazing away at you. Usually a duel to the finish, only one will live, you or him. That is a Fighter Pilot as well as this writer can say. Now you know why these men walk the earth with a little extra swagger and it still shows a bit in this man I met today, and rightfully so. Long ago that’s what he did for a living and his country. He married a pretty, young, Oroville High School girl and took her away, all over the world, named all of his planes after her, the most famous hangs, to this day, in the Smithsonian in Washington D. C. I have visited this place twice and looked at that plane in awe. Faster than the speed of sound for the first time. I could write all day of his accomplishments but I think most of my readers know. Maybe someday he will give me an exclusive story. That no other writer knows. He’s been featured in movies, books and rubbed elbows with many very important people, but by golly he’s still just a man, with ties to Oroville of long ago. He parked in the fish hatchery parking lot, like every one else, walked out to our little, patriotic ceremony on the Upper Green Bridge. Jennifer Rogers, Gerry Vang, Thai Yang, Maly Vang, Maishoua Pha, Chinou Thao, Johnny Chue, under the direction of the Nelson Avenue Band Director Mr. Robert Christensen, played patriotic melodies. Not knowing who was in the audience, that afternoon, Memorial Day May 26, 2008. He and his pretty wife, walked over to our Memorial Hall, where the American Legion, Post 95, served a great Barbeque lunch. The room was full of heroes that day. He walked up to me, (he knew who I was by my persistent phone calls to his then secretary. At first I didn’t recognize him and saw a P51 on his cap, I said did you fly P51’s.? What an understatement to say to General Chuck Yeager. Did you fly Mustang’s, did he ever. That pretty OHS girl was Glennis Dickhouse. She passed away a few years back and he has remarried. We talked a little about his time here as he visited the Veterans Museum, at the Veterans Memorial Hall, put together by Bob Jackson. I think he was impressed but hoped to see something about his outfit here in Oroville, The Fourth Air Force 357 Fighter Group, 363rd Fighter Squadron, who flew P39’s. We will strive to do that! He mentioned that he saw the plane crash out by Sugar Loaf on Nelson Avenue, Thermalito and the other 3 that died flying out of Oroville Army Airdrome died after he left. I have written before about the man who hit Sugar loaf, 2nd Lt. Harold J. Mickelson, died August 1943, he will be honored in our Veterans Park.

Memorial Day went very well, the Flags were beautiful, over 200 people participated it the Ceremony and about 100 or so in the audience. Let’s hope the Audiences gets bigger next year. Sherry Morehouse and Joan Lee (Van Campen) threw a wreath into the River to honor all who served as far away as the Feather River flows and it does to all the seas of our earth. Bob Morehouse rang a bell 21 times. My friend, Tookie Miles remembered the ceremony on our bridge as a little girl over 70 years ago. Others also remember coming out on the bridge with their parents. Perhaps, young, Pvt. Colony worked on Fighter Pilot Chuck Yeager’s plane, who knows.