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
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.