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August 24, 2012

Oroville Mercury Register
March 1, 1962 (Fifty Years)
U2 Plane Crashes Have Killed 5 Pilots

Washington (UPI) At least five pilots have been killed and nine planes destroyed in crashes within the United States involving high altitude U2 jets such as the one flown by Francis Gary Powers over Russia, the Air Force said today. Approximately 40 of the high flying planes were built at a cost of $850,000 each. The Air Force summary did not include the Power’s plane, operated on a mission for the Central Intelligence Agency, or others under CIA control that may have crashed here or abroad The crashes occurred over a period of six years beginning in 1956 at Winslow, Ariz. Six of the other U2 crashes, all of which were previously announced, occurred at Del Rio, Tex., in 1957, 1958 and 1960. Another U2 crash occurred at Abilene, Tex., Aug 9, 1958.

Oroville Mercury Register
May 30, 1955
Oroville Pays Tribute To Nation’s War Dead

Thomas Corkin, local attorney, was the main speaker at the Memorial Day services at Municipal Auditorium today. He served as a fighter pilot during World War II. He spoke on the rights of individuals under the democratic government and the supreme sacrifices that so many Americans have paid in defending those rights. He cited that while the United States was not an aggressive nation, Americans would give to the last full measure to defend the privileges that this country affords. Floral Wreaths Dropped Preceding the program at the auditorium, services were held at the Upper Thermalito Bridge where veterans and veterans’ auxiliary groups offered floral wreaths and two planes flew low over the river, dropping wreaths in honor of the nation’s war dead. Chaplain W. T. Holt officiated at the services and the Thermalito School band played two selections. Included in the program at the auditorium was a guest speaker, Gen. Arthur R. Wilson, who spoke on the meaning and origin of Memorial Day. (Stu- I would like to hear from those Band Kids)
Other program features were the Pledge to the Flag, led by Courtney Lainhart, commander of the VFW; the invocation by the Rev. L.W. Reneau; the welcome address by Mayor Connie Weisker; a selection by the Thermalito School band; solos by Lavone Alkire and Ellen Walker, accompanied by Clare Wigg and Mrs. R. J. Phillips; Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address by Lt. Keith Lyde. Father Fitzgerald pronounced the benediction and taps was sounded by bugler Larry Bonham to close the program. The parade body then adjourned to the Memorial Park Cemetery where the day’s final services were held with Rev. Holt officiating. The various veterans’ organizations paid tribute to those who gave their lives for their country by placing flowers on the graves and at the foot of the Memorial Monument. (Stu-Now flags are placed on the graves)

Stu’s Notes: The men who flew the U2’s knew of these dangers, yet they flew on, Heroes all of them. I usually write something on the Anniversary of Captain Randy Roby’s last heroic act on that day 16 years ago. He died on the streets of Oroville. He gave his life trying to get his plane away from hurting anyone. He stayed with his plane too long to save his own life. He knew this could happen but he headed for the open fields north of town, instead of bailing out sooner.
I wrote the following paragraph in August 2009. I am convinced young Capt. Randy Roby gave up his life so that others may live, those others being the people of Oroville. I’ve talked to 6 eyewitnesses now and some told me he looked to be in trouble approaching our little town, I’m totally convinced he stuck with his crippled plane trying to get it to the unpopulated country just north of Oroville. One man told me of a radio message out of Beale Air force Base that he might have tried to put his plane down in our Feather River to avoid houses and people. The men who told me this is an honorable man that is a protector of our citizens. Maybe Capt. Roby saw people on our river that hot August day and chose to try to get out of town, in doing so, he gave the ultimate sacrifice in his duty as a brave protector of our Freedom. 13 years ago and nowhere is he honored in Oroville. Why? Because people soon forget, well he is Not Forgotten by some and will be on the Oroville Veterans Memorial plaque. But there should be more, why not a memorial in front of the Cal-Fire office on Nelson Ave. where he died. Lets go back to 1988, a young 1st Lt. Thomas E. Boyle, from Oroville, died in Germany trying to do as Capt Roby did, get his plane away from people. He almost made it and sadly as in Capt Roby’s case where a lady died, the Mayors, brother was killed, in spite of this he was honored there as a hero. Many, many more could have perished. I talked to four young Firemen at the Home Depot the other day and told them Capt Roby’s story, hoping to instill in them the need for a Memorial up there. Maybe with the help of our community it will be done. We know so little about these two men I hope to fine more. After I wrote the above paragraph, my granddaughter, Jessica Rose Shaner and I, placed a small temporary memorial at the site.