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December 18, 2009

Oroville Mercury Register April 21, 1944
Training With Mountain Men Novel Experience for Vaughan
They sleep in foxholes dug in 4 foot snow; toilet articles frozen; dog tired at night. Wilbur Vaughn of the mountain troops thinks nothing of going to sleep with his boots tucked beside him in his sleeping bag. As a matter of fact he has to keep his boots warm if he expects to be able to get them on in the morning, for he’s on bivouac in an area 11,000 feet in elevation where the temperature ranges around 10 and 20 degrees on a clear day. In a letter to his parents, Councilman and Mrs. Stanley Vaughn of Brown Street, the mountain trooper tells a graphic story of training in the icy heights of the Rocky Mountains. He writes in part: “We have just arrived at a new bivouac area at about 11,000 feet elevation. We are all dog tired after skiing for eight miles carrying 80 pounds packs. It is about an hour or so before dark. The situation is tactical so camouflage is strict, no lights or cigarettes after dusk. The temperature is around 20 degrees and falling fast. Everyone starts digging in fox holes and shelters.
Mattresses of Snow “ The snow is about four feet deep, sand snow underneath with a thin curst on top. We are just below timberline so boughs are available for beds. We dig holes in the snow about six or seven feet square, as far down as possible, leaving enough snow to act as a mattress. The hut has vertical walls with a door at one corner, If the weather looks like snow we put a top on it by laying boughs on the top then snow blocks on top of that. This makes it snow and wind proof, which is all that is necessary even under the most extreme conditions. We put about six inches of boughs on the floor and get our equipment all arranged so as to find everything without lights. There are generally two of us to a hut. The bivouac area is not accessible to transportation facilities, so no kitchens can be established. It will be necessary for us to cook the rations we have brought with us. We might have any of three different rations … None of them are bad after one learns to prepare them properly. We cook them on mountain stoves about the size of a pint milk bottle.

Damp Feet Freeze
“Before eating, we change our footwear, as our feet are wet from perspiration. Damp feet freeze very easily. We put on dry socks and either muck lucks, (canvas boots) or bunny boots, (felt shoes). We have candles in the tent. By the time we get all reports and overlays (transparent papers used in map making) made for the day it is around 2400 (midnight) and we hit the sack.

“We are usually up at 0600 (6 a.m.) and packed at 0700. Of course we sleep with all our clothes on except our boots. We pull out for the days trip. We have five minutes every 30 minutes, to get the packs off our backs. Everyone nearly always carries a carton of candy bars in his pack. I very seldom ate candy before coming up here but lots of sugar is essential for this rugged training. Water is our main worry. With all the creeks frozen, the only supply of water is melting the snow.

Whiskers Grow Slowly
“We wear our whites most of the times, like the pictures you see on the backs of magazines. By the time we reach our new bivouac area we are all so tired that we just drop before starting to dig in again. “Every three or four days we rest up, clean and dry equipment and clean up. Shaving is no problem.
(to be continued)

Stu’s Notes: A few weeks ago I wrote that I had forgotten the name of a Marine that I wrote about a few years ago (Sept. 3, 2004) I though he was from Honcut and I wrote that I wished I could just type in Honcut on our web site and find that marine’s story. Of course, at the time I though that was impossible. I mentioned this to Daryl a few days ago and he opened my eyes a little bit more of the wonders of the web. He said type in Honcut and you will find your story. I did and I did. It never ceases to amaze me what you can do on the computer. It is much smarter than me. I found my story of Pedro (Pete) Ruiz and his 4 brothers. They are five brothers who served their country so well. They were; Cpl. Luis Ruiz Jr. US Army 1941-1945, WWII Germany, Cpl. Pedro (Pete) Ruiz, US Marine Corps 1941-1945 WWII South Pacific. S/Sgt Arnulfo Ruiz, US Army 1947-1951 Korean Veteran, Cpl, Ruben Babe Ruiz, US Army 1949-1952 Armed Forces Occupation Germany, Cpl. Angelo Alfonso Ruiz, US Marine Corp 1952-1955, Korean Veteran. Honcut and the world should never forget them. I hope to meet Pete again some day. I have written before of some of Oroville’s Vaughan’s, I wonder if they are all related. Of course I hope to get the “rest of the Story” of young Wilber, but as in many cases time has taking its toll on these WWII heroes.

We had a Float in the light Parade, thanks to Bill Fox, Jack Brereton, Jim Holton, Garret Gramps. Dee Stamps and Bob and Sherry Morehouse walked all the way handing out candy.. It was nice to see so many out in the rain to enjoy the Light Parade.