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August 22, 2008

Oroville Mercury June 29,1945
In The Fight Fireman John Higgins Gets 3-Hour Vacation Aboard an Aircraft Carrier in the Pacific
Fireman 2/c John Higgins of Rt. 3, Oroville, is back at the business of fighting Japanese after a recent three-hour rest period on one of the Navy’s “recreation islands” in this war zone. The “recreation islands” have been set up on tiny atolls to give navy men a few hours to relax between battles. The crewmen of this carrier visited the island in small parties, and had a chance to put their feet on solid ground for a few hours. Recreation and refreshment included cans of beer and soft drinks, a ball game, horseshoe-pitching, boxing, swimming and sun bathing. The sailors also had a chance to mingle with crewmen of other ships in the area, swapping sea stories and talking about mutual acquaintances.

Sgt. Engasser Back In Town
Sgt. Norval Engasser, son of Mrs. Louise Engasser, arrived in Oroville Thursday from Germany where he was liberated by the Russians two days after VE day from a German prison camp for non-commissioned officers.

“Some Gave All”
Veterans Wife Makes Her Home In Oroville
Pfc. Dennis Everett White was killed in action Jan. 1, 1945, in Luxembourg, Germany. His wife, Mrs. Grace White, has been making her home with her sister, Mrs. Clacy L. Wallis on Hewitt Ave. for the past two months. A little daughter, eleven months old, has never seen her father. The 22 year-old veteran was attached to the signal corps in General Patton’s 3rd Army. He had been overseas since July 1, 1944 and in the service for over three years. He was from Texas and was stationed at Camp Beale when he met his wife. They made their home in Marysville while he was stationed there.

Local Boys Present At Service men’s Dance
A number of Oroville boys home on leave were at the dance at Servicemen’s Center Wednesday night. Among them were A. E. Baker, radioman2/c; S. E. Higgins, aviation machinist mate 3/c; Robert Strang, a marine sergeant; Bill Taggart, seaman 1/c; Sgt. Harry Meeker of the US Army; Jesus Gomez, BM2/c; Melvin Ferguson of the merchant marine, was also seen down town. Al Walsh has been working on a new public address system with two microphones, one for the orchestra and one for the speaker or singer. Plans are also made for a new loud speaker at the opposite end of the hall from the stage. Servicemen were present from Oroville and Chico airports and a group came from Camp Beale in charge of Lt. Neckey. Several numbers were dedicated to the home town boys by Casagrande’s All Stars. Owing to the sugar shortage, the boys were served coffee and doughnuts instead of the usual homemade cakes. Next Wednesday night will be July 4. There will be a dance as usual with Del Dudley’s Royal Tigers furnishing the music.

Stu’s Notes: Pfc. Dennis White, KIA, made his home for a short while in his life in Marysville, while training for the war. I checked the Yuba County Memorial and his name is not there, maybe someday they will add it. Our Oroville Veterans Memorial now for “All of Butte County” will honor those that died after training in our county, if they died while in the service. They passed this way for a short time in their life, they called this home, they will be honored here. I’ve written about some of the above men, you can find their stories on our web site kept quite current by Daryl Autrey. I know A.E. “Earl” Baker, Jesus “Sus” Gomez and John Higgins, they all still live in Oroville.

I’ve known John and Betty Higgins for about 45 years. For a few years the Ironworkers working on the Power House on Grand Avenue and the Dam it’s self used to go to their Bar called the 12 Oaks on 14th and the Lateral, now Oroville Dam Blvd West. My Ironworker connecting buddy, Rex Miller, his dad, Bob and other’s played some pretty good pool there. Rex was on the Aircraft Carrier Princeton. John never told me then he had been in WWII on the Shangri la. Now I have some of his story. The Words of 2/c Seaman John Higgins, I was on the aircraft carrier Shangri-La WWII from Guadalcanal to Tokyo Bay and back to San Francisco. “Not far near the War’s end we were not far from Tokyo Bay in one of the Biggest Naval Fleets ever assembled. When a lone Kamikaze came in and all ships were firing . I was up on the stack watching the boiler smoke. I had a phone, my job was to report to the engine room, the smoke coming out, white smoke, too much air, black smoke not enough. When the plane came near I must have looked like a turtle trying to hide under my steel helmet. Finally he went into the ocean. One day the Skipper said, ‘Hear this, hear this’ they are dropping a bomb on Tokyo, well they didn’t and soon the war was over and we steamed into the Bay. Later we were out to sea. When the Big Storm hit, ships were blown into shore. After that our planes were landed onshore and we took a flight deck full of Marines and Army men home.”