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June 1, 2012

Exclusive to Stu Shaner by Richard B. Fry
Continued from last week
When it was determined the B-29’s could not use the airfields at Kunming (altitude 6,141) or Luliang (6,064) because of the altitude, they were moved north to Chengdu, in Sichuan province, where four airfields (designated Able 1-4) were built at a lower altitude.
(Somewhere around 1,500 ft.) The ‘29s flew missions into Manchuria and to the coast of China out of those fields for a time, but this proved terribly inefficient as they had to provide their own fuel – and bombs. This meant flying back over the Hump between missions. Eventually, the 20th AF was moved to bases such as Piaradoba, in India, and operated from there until April of 1945 when they were ordered to Tinian, in the Marianas, to begin the bombing of the Japanese home islands. Now Dan (Beebe) and George (Wanglelin), for the “local angle!” (Took me a while to get there, didn’t it? Let’s see, at my old “stringing rate” of 10 cents an inch..$$$!) In late April, 1945, a flight of B-29s from Piaradoba, landed at Luliang enroute to Tinian (in the Marianas), where they would join other SuperForts to begin bombing the Japanese home islands. The big planes refueled, the crews rested briefly, and then the ‘29s took off for the long, non-stop flight—something over 2,000 miles to Tinian. The night of April 28—wow! About 67 years ago this week, that was!—one of the SuperForts rolled out of its revetment across the field where the 508th B-24s normally resided.(Continued next week)

Stu’s Notes: Well Oroville’s Memorial Day Events went well, a few quiches, but that happens. A very small group of Oroville Veterans Memorial Committee put the events together. Chaired by Sherry Morehouse and Vene Thompson, and a committee that’s been meeting since last February, consisting of Bill Fox, Bob Morehouse, Jim Holden, Jim Bruce, Susan Sharon, Bob Hedrick, Daryl Autrey, Roy Boyette, Wayne Brock and me, Stu. We all enjoyed hearing Nou Xiong sing the “Star Spangled Banner”, Paula Felipe sing the “Battle Hymn of the Republic and Brooke Leonard sing “God Bless America” up on the hill at Memorial Park Cemetery. Presentation of Colors by V. F. W. Veterans Honor Guard, Knights of Columbus Fr. O’Calahan Assembly butte Commandery #5, Masonic Lodge 103, Civil Air Patrol and Boy Scout Troop 29, and Don Button playing the Bagpipes. Invocation and Benediction were given by Reverend Dr. Stan Henderson, a Tribute was given by Bob Hedrick the Address was by Fire Chief Charles Hurley, Memorial to the Unknown by Vene Thompson. About 50 service clubs made presentation in honor of Veterans. They were all part of an inspirational service. There was the usual small crowd up on Veterans Hill at the Cemetery. The elected officials that I saw were City Council Member Cheri Bunker, Butte County Supervisor Bill Connelly and Senator Doug LaMalfa. I did see District Attorney Mike Ramsey on The Bridge, I think that was all. I must say the Supervisors have Cemeteries in their own Districts and were most likely there. American Flags flying in the breeze was such a beautiful sight. The raising of the Flag by the V.F.W. Honor Guard, the 21 gun Salute by the Civil Air Patrol, Taps by Ron Wolcott and Amazing Grace on the Bag Pipes by Don Button was a wonderful conclusion to the ceremony.

Many in the crowd headed on down to the Green Bridge where many others were waiting. We had another wonderful ceremony with the Thermalito Band, under the direction of Bob Christiansen, playing patriotic music, Pastor Laura Heffernan leading the crowd in “America the Beautiful”. Bagpipers Don Button and Jim McKassom also played for us on the Bridge. The Invocation was given by Pastor Donna Van Maanen, Amy Boyette spoke on behalf of the Daughter of the American Revolution, Sherry Morehouse read off the names of local service men and women who died this year as Bob Morehouse Rang the Bell after saying “no answer” to each name read. This is a Navy tradition along with tossing a wreath off the bridge. I then spoke about the Blue Star flag now flying around town to show that Oroville has sons and daughters in the fight overseas. Also explained the POW/MIA flag. As the Ceremony on the hill was going on a Eurasian Dove flew right by the podium and went on, did anyone see this. The next day my 10 year old granddaughter, Jessica Rose Shaner, said,”Grandpa I saw two doves fly right by us up there, did you see them?” Eurasian Doves moved to Oroville about 5 years ago, is this a small sign of World Peace-someday. Thanks to all that came to one or two Memorial Day services.

Next Wednesday is June 6th the 68 Anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Europe on the Normandy Beaches. Jan. 4, 2008, I wrote of Lt. Joseph P. Mills and that he was a Staff Sgt. When he went into action on that day. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. George E. Mills Sr. of Feather Falls and Married to Mrs. J. P. Mills of Feather Falls (back then most newspapers didn’t use the wife’s first name) His A brother’s Sgt. George E. Mills and Pfc. Rodger K. Mills, also fought in Europe, a family of Heroes. See our web site for more of their story, I heard Joe has passed on. Recently a man on TV said the Hero word was used too much, well as my readers know I use it a lot. . I think the word sports hero is totally over used.