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April 30, 2012

Oroville Mercury Register
June 1944

Lt. James Koch Hurt Landing His Shot-Up Bomber In England
First Lt. James Koch, who has had several harrowing experience flying over Europe, recently was released from a hospital in England after having crash landed there. Koch was pilot of a bomber that was on reconnaissance over France. It flew into heavy flak and was so badly shot up that it barely reached the British isles. Two of the crew were wounded. The Oroville boy escaped wounds, but in the crash landing his kneecap was fractured. He was in a hospital for two months. Mrs. James Koch, his mother, received word of her son through an English woman at whose home he stayed, who reported that he now walks with the aid of “a stout walking stick.” Jimmy had stopped at her home before, recovering from a fever. In her letter she wrote to Mrs. Koch that Jimmy “quite took us up where he had left us.” (Stu- “a stout walking stick, well a lot of Canes are sticks why do we call them canes?)

Oroville Mercury Register
August 14, 1945

Local Pilot’s Bomber Battles Eight Japanese Planes, Downs One With cries of “Lots of fun today,” the crew of a B-24 , piloted by Lt. James A. Culliton of Oroville and just returned from a battle with eight Japanese planes on northern Kyushu, climbed out of their heavy bomber back at their Okinawa base on July 25, according to a war department news release. A formation of Liberators, including Culliton’s plane out on its ninth combat mission was attacked that day by approximately 30 Japanese fighters. Eight of the Japanese planes followed Culliton’s bomber out from their target, Tsuiki Air Field on Kyushu, and attacked with machine gun fire and phosphorus bombs. Three blasts from the bomber’s nose guns hit one plane, blasting a wing off. A crew member said he saw the fighter burning as it passed the tail of the bomber and crashed into the water. The eight-hour mission was complicated by interception all the way from the targets, as well as bad weather on the return trip, but Lt. Culliton said, “We were flying a nice close formation, almost rubbing rails, and that discourages a fighter.” Culliton also mentioned meager flak over a small island en route. In the bombing of the dispersal area of a naval training base as their target, the crew observed that the bombs “hit right in the target area, starting a large fire.” Stu- Rubbing Rails?

Stu’s Notes: Lt. James Koch survived many close calls in WWII. I first wrote about him in May of 2006 from a Mercury Register from 1942, early in the war he flew while training for the Royal Canadian Air Force. Flying over a bay on the East Coast of Canada his bomber lost an engine and he had to ditch into the Bay. This story brought a call from Marvin Mclain, Oroville High School class of 1937. Marvin said “Jimmy was truly an American” he was in Marvin’s high school class. I thought back then if Lt. James Koch was a Lt. in 1942, there’s a good chance he broke America’s Neutrality laws and snuck into Canada to join their Air Force before Pearl Harbor. Many Patriotic Americans did this before we entered the War. They knew Japan and Germany had to be stopped from their evil ways.
I wrote in September, 2008 another news clip I found. Koch Recovering After Operation James Koch, Canadian Royal Air Force flier, is recovering at Yorkton, Saskatchewan, after an operation for acute appendicitis performed last Saturday night, according to word received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. James H. Koch of Foothill District. Koch, Oroville high school graduate, who was home recently on a short visit, is now stationed at Yorkton. The above story, I just found, somehow it fell out of a stack of my papers. What a hero he was. I haven’t heard from Marvin Mclain for a long time I hope he reads this and is alive and well.
I just found the above story of James A. Culliton of Oroville and by typing his name in on our website I found
Bess Culliton who was married to Jim until he sadly passed away almost 20 years ago, he graduated Oroville Union High School in 1940 and Bess graduated in 1941, they still have class reunions, I was honored to have been invited in the past. James served his country for many years. He was over sea’s three times, serving in the Cold War. He flew in the famous Hay lift which I remember as a young boy from news reels at the movies, not T.V. I can’t remember exactly when but seems like the early 50’s. There was so much snow in I think Montana and those other states around there, millions of cattle and wild animals were starving. Hay was dropped from airplanes to feed the animals. Maybe a reader will call on this. James also served on the Federal Aviation Administration for 19 years. Bess was born at the Oroville Curran Hospital which soon will bite the dust. My son Rick was also born there 51 years ago. Thank you so much for this some of the “Rest of the Story”, Bess.