CSS Tabbed Menus Css3Menu.com

September 4, 2009

Chico Record
November 17, 1942
“Some Gave All”
Details of Heroic Death of Chico Man Related by Chronicle Writer
Some time ago the death of Lawrence Gianella was reported to his father Henry Gianella. The former young Chico man, nephew of Mrs. William G. Pillsbury, died with his ship in the south Pacific; found in Sunday’s Chronicle details of his death were told by Rita Halle Kleeman. In “This Week” the writer quoted a third mate whose name she did not divulge. She told how the mate went back to the sinking ship in a vain effort to save his buddy – Lawrence Gianella- and later weak and ill after 31 days in a life boat paddled 36 miles in a 16-foot canoe to bring help to his shipmates. After being rescued this third mate told about Lawrence; “Laurence was about 20 when he went to sea, a tall boy carrying in his blue eyes and fair skin little hint of his Italian ancestry as a boy he had wanted to be a radio operator and had picked fruit to earn his way through radio school. When war came he shipped on a cargo vessel bound for Australia. “She was an old ship, with creaking body and antiquated equipment. Laurence told his buddy that if the ship was torpedoed, it had better be near help; if he got any message off the ancient radio at all, it wouldn’t reach farther than a couple of hundred miles. He was right…” The writer tells how the torpedo struck at dawn and the third mate who had gone off duty a short time before was asleep. He jumped out of his bunk, grabbed his navigation instruments and ran to the radio shack. He yelled “Come on.” To Laurence, “There’s no time to lose.” But the former Chico boy, then on the way to becoming a hero said “Can’t. I haven’t got this thing running yet.” The third mate went on deck to help launch his lifeboat and dashed back to the radio shack to get Laurence. “Hurry up Sparks,” he shouted “the boat is launched.” “Haven’t got that SOS out,” Laurence said without looking up. The third mate yelled, scrambling to his feet: “Come on: after a lurch of the ship had thrown him to the floor. “She’s going down.” Sure that Laurence was following the third mate rushed to the deck, jumped overboard and swam for the life boat. And just as he reached it he heard a great roar of rushing waters. When he looked back he saw her going down, prow first. “Laurence Gianella was with her. He was still trying to get that message out. Whether he succeeded or not no one knows. But he died trying” the writer said.

Oroville Mercury Register
November 15, 1951
News From Oroville Men in the Service

William O’Kelley, son of Mr. and Mrs. Orie O’Kelley, Houston street, Oroville, was recently awarded a promotion to the grade of sergeant while serving with the 7th Infantry Division in rugged mountain terrain north of the 38th parallel. Recognized as the most traveled division in the Far East, the 7th fought its way from Pusan to the Manchurian Border earlier in the war. O’Kelley, a gunner in the Heavy Mortar Company of the 31st Infantry “Polar Bear” Regiment, earned the promotion for “excellent performance of duty in ground combat action.” The Oroville soldier entered the Army in February, 1950.Pvt. Harry A. Webb, son of Mr. and Mrs. Glen Harrison, Route 2,Oroville, is serving with the 24th Infantry Division on the fighting front in Korea. The first American division to enter the fighting in Korea, the 24th has played a major role in UN offensives north and south of the 38th Parallel. Private Webb received his basic training at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. He arrived in Korea on August 12, 1951, and was assigned to the fighting 21st. Private Webb has been awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Korean Service Ribbon with one campaign star. Before entering the Army Webb attended Oroville Union High School.

Charles Pine, 17, son of Mrs. E. A. Kinney, Houston Street, is undergoing recruit training at the U. S. Naval Training Center at San Diego following his enlistment on Oct. 10. He expects to be home on leave for Christmas. While attending Oroville Union High School he was a member of the school band. A brother Walter Pine Vote, has been serving in the Navy for eight years.

Stu’s Notes: A Merchant Marine goes down with his ship, so young, so brave as most of my readers know unlike the headline I write about Butte County Heroes and thanks to Joan Lee I have these long forgotten stories of them. The sad thing about most of the young men who died in WWII is that their Mothers and Fathers are gone and many of their other relatives. The article on Lawrence or Laurence, his name was spelled both ways, is just one of many that Oroville Veterans Memorial Park Committee member Joan Lee recently found. Over 8 years of looking and we still are finding these heroes that died so long ago. Perhaps if we find that Chronicle story of the Sunday before Nov. 17, we will know more about young brave Lawrence.

POW/MIA Recognition Day is September 18th.