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August 29, 2008

Oroville Mercury June 29,1945
Sgt. Meeker Here Enroute New Post
S/Sgt. Harry Meeker recently arrived at the home of his mother, Mrs. Ina Meeker of Center Street. He came here from Keesler Field, Miss., and has 18 days delay enroute to Palm Springs where he will report next week for further assignment. He expects to be engaged in maintenance work or as flight engineer on cargo planes. He was an instructor in aerial engineering while he was stationed at Keesler Field. S/Sgt. Vernon Bailey and other Oroville boys were also at that field. He spent several months in France last year and at one time was reported missing. He wears two battle stars for action in Northern and Southern France and has two oak leaf clusters added to his Air Medal. He also has the Purple Heart awarded for a wound in the arm received during action over Germany. While in France he met Bob Losh and Bill Strang.

Passing the Sandwiches Also Serves Its Purpose In Battle
“Pass the Ammunition” means more than the words of a song to a ship’s cook for that is exactly what he does while in combat. In between passing sandwiches and joe (coffee), he passes powder and shells, according to Alfred Vasquez, 21, ship’s cook 3/c, on the U. S. S. Washington, and former Mercury carrier. Vasquez, who is on a 27-day leave in Oroville, said it is very difficult to prepare food under combat conditions but, “We just get it out the best we can. It’s hot work but I like it.” He said the men are fed in relays aboard ship and that sometimes “general quarters,” is sounded right in the middle of a meal. Then the men rush to their battle stations, leaving the food. By the time the all clear is sounded, that same group is ready for another meal and those who didn’t get a chance to eat anything before, are also clamoring for food. They have very good appetites,” he added. Fresh vegetables are served as long as the supply lasts, Vasquez said, then the cooks start feeding dehydrated potatoes and cabbage. Occasionally the men have tomatoes and often celery. Vasquez arrived in Oroville Monday for a visit with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Vasquez of C street, and other relatives. This is his second leave since he enlisted in the navy in 1942. He wears four bronze battle stars and one of silver, showing he has participated in nine major battles. His campaign ribbons include those of the Asiatic Pacific, the Philippines and the American Defense theatres of war. He said his ship, the Washington was the first ship to engage the Japanese in surface combat in the Pacific. It took part in the Guadalcanal battle, those of the Marshall Islands, the Marianna’s and many others. Vasquez has crossed the equator five times, the first time in 1942.

Stu’s Notes: I felt so bad about the condition of our property, ever since we took the houses down our Veterans Memorial site it has looked terrible, but take a look now, much better. Thanks to a most wonderful work crew and new member Ted Bigelow and his big backhoe. Ted a Marine (I’ve been told once a Marine always a Marine) has a construction business here in Oroville. Well he put his machine to work and really did a good job and check out the stones that , when cleaned up, should look good somewhere in the memorial. One is a natural bench. Ted found them buried in the middle of our site. Feather River Recreation and Park District also had a crew and a tractor there driven by Tony Vierra. Others on the work crew were; Bill Fox, Joan Lee, Dee Stamps, Daryl Autrey, Wayne Block, Jack Brereton, Stu Shaner, Bill Connelly, Bob Morehouse, Sherry Morehouse, Bob White, John Archibald, Bob Sharkey, Hue Vang, Kevin Yang, Steven Dillon, Tika Nail, and Rudy Mevino.

I WONDER IF “a cup of Joe” was coined during WWII by the Servicemen and women as the Mercury had to add ,coffee, to the above story. Hey old-timers let me know. Wow Al got two leaves in 3 years. What a job. The more I read the more I’m overwhelmed by the Heroes of Oroville. I finally found a story about Al Vasquez, US Navy man. I ran his picture along with 10 other Oroville Heroes of WW II, on January 9, 2004. Al is my friend Angelo Acebo’s uncle. Angelo was a Marine who started out in High School as a Sea Scout.