"Some Gave All”
Oroville Mercury Register, March 24, 1950
Chico Airman, 11 Others Killed
A Chico man was one of 12 crewmen killed yesterday when a giant
B-50 Superfortress exploded “like a bomb in the sky” near Hyder,
Ariz. Listed among the dead was Corp.
James L. Jones of South Broadway, Chico, a gunner on the
huge ship. Meanwhile, air force officials worked beneath a
blazing Arizona sun today, probing the twisted wreckage that is
scattered over a two-mile-square area of the cactus-studded desert,
the United Press reported. Two men, the co-pilot and a bombardier,
parachuted to safety when the superfort exploded, but neither could
offer a clue to the air tragedy, except that one engine caught fire
and another quit. The plane was on a routine training
flight. The co-pilot, First Lt. W. T. Gentry, 26, of Kokomo,
Ind., said, “I just had my chute on and dropped through the hatch”
Capt. J. N. Lee, 29, of Gaestra, Mich., the bombardier, said the
blast blew him out of the fuselage. After a long fall he managed
to open his chute. Neither man was injured seriously.
Mrs. Fred L. Blackketter witnessed the crash from the ground.
She saw one of the plane’s engines begin to smoke and: Then Boom!
– It exploded like a bomb.” The 12 dead included four other
Californians besides the Chico man.
Oroville Mercury Register September 8, 1944
Meeker Hitching To His Old Home Town
Staff Sgt. Harry Meeker, who recently
escaped after having been shot down over enemy territory in France,
was scheduled to hitchhike into Oroville this afternoon. Meeker
arrived at Hamilton Field this morning and from there notified his
mother, Mrs. Ina Meeker of Center Street,
of his intention to travel here today.
Oroville Mercury Register September 8, 1944
In The Fight Casualty Ships Repaired By Sgt. Bruno Giovannoni
Sgt. Bruno Giovannoni of Oroville is
one of Uncle Sam’s service squadron specialists of the Ninth Air
Force Service Command. He helps repair the bombers that, according
to a report from the air force headquarters in England, “are pounding
the guts out of Hitler’s robots with everything but the kitchen
sink. The 22 year old Giovannoni was a sheet metal worker
at Sacramento before going into the army. He knows sheet metal
work. “The ship looked like a tin can riddled with a shotgun”
said Giovannoni of one casualty bomber. “The flak shot were scattered
in the fuselage, wings, nacelle and empennage. At the junction
where the wing meets the fuselage were two flak holes big enough
to stick your arm through.” Giovannoni tackled the job and
went right through it with care and precision. Tipping the
scales at well over the 200-pound mark, the service squadron man
got into some tight spots. The shock struts of the landing
gear made his quarters close and uncomfortable. Parts were
salvaged from the “bone yard” to help complete the job. When
Giovannoni got through another bomber was ready to resume operations
against enemy installations. One of the many hundreds of such
specialists in the Ninth Air Force Command, Giovannoni entered the
service at Monterey. He is a graduate of Oroville high school
class of ’40. His wife, the former Alma Roflo, lives with
his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Carlo Giovannoni in Oroville
Stu’s Notes: I was looking in my room of thousands of
Oroville Mercury’s and reached down and picked up the one with the
above story of Corp. James L. Jones, I had read it long ago but
back then our Memorial was just for the Oroville High School District.
Now of course it is for all of Butte County and we will
put young hero Corp James L. Jones name in stone.( The Oroville
Mercury did say Corp. not Airman) We hope to find more of
his story. He died in the Cold War, two months before the
Korean War. Sgt. Harry Meeker, Oroville and America’s hero
and he had to hitchhike home. I recently wrote about his amazing
story. Sadly later in the Vietnam era they quit hitch hiking.
Anyway I was going from Reno to Tulelake in the winter of 1968 to
see my kids and in the middle of nowhere was a young sailor with
his thumb out. It was about 1AM on a cold morning. He
was going home to Klamath Falls 30 miles past Tulelake. What
could I do but take him home. Then heading to where my kids,
Rick and Debbie were, I ran out of gas. It was pitch dark
and wolves were howling all around, well maybe a coyote or two but
they sounded like wolves, bears to maybe Mt. Lions.
But by golly I got that Sailor home to a warm bed. In the Mercury
today there was a story of a Chico hero that passed away.
His name was Mervin W. “Bud” French Jr. He was in the Chico
National Guard when WWII started. They went to war; more will
come soon, as I talked to his son Gregg. We do know that at
least 12 of those young Chico National Guard men died in WWII, they
will be honored on our Memorial.