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November 14, 2014
Oroville Mercury Register
September 21,1944
Pacific Vet Dies On Train

Believed victim of a heart attack, Pfc. Marshall J. Bragg, 33, veteran of 25 months service in the Pacific, died early this morning on a troop train near Oroville. He was the son of Luther R. Bragg of Speedway, W. Va. The body taken to the Nugent Funeral Home at Chico by the hospital corps of the Chico Army Air Field, will be sent to the Soldier’s home, the Chico authorities said today. Pfc. Bragg, wearer of the Purple Heart and bronze medals for campaigns at Guadalcanal and in the Solomons, was wounded by shrapnel at Valla Lavella Island in Aug. 1943, army authorities said. He was unmarried. (Stu- Unmarried-Divorced, kids?)

More from Charles Leroy Myers (Chico High School Graduate and Prisoner of War, Wake Island 1941)
“After Capture", continued.)
He said he would bring me rice which we could cook on the shop forge. A junior officer from the warehouse staff caught me with the rice and beat me with everything he could get his hands on. He threw me to the ground and beat me with a club and his feet. He wanted me to tell him where I got the white rice. I refused to tell the junior officer who had given me the rice. He left me lying on the ground and went for our regular guard. He brought back the guard who gave me the rice. The guard shoved the junior offer to attention while he beat him with his fist. Then he tripped him to the ground to lie next to me. He then kicked him with his boots, “You have no authority over my prisoners. You are not to ever touch them again.” This is another example of why you could never figure out how Japanese would react to any situation. The next day that junior officer’s boss came to me and wanted a cigarette case for himself. He gave me no rice. I went into mass production. I made several while the head officer waited for his. I wished I had kept one for myself many times after leaving. I did keep a spoon that was engraved on the back with a candelabra, a turkey in a platter with a wine goblet next to it. It was to commemorate this spoon it was to represent my Last Supper. My name was also engraved on the handle. Lou Unger etched it for me. After surviving the Death Camp 18 at Sesabo which was for Navy prisoners, these other camps were not as difficult to stay alive in. They were tough but not every day and night like Camp 18 where 80-90% of the men would have died or committed suicide if it continued for another year. I too considered doing it several times. It was easier to just die than to live each day. There was a Japanese school teacher who brought children up to work on the road. This was in April of 1943. The teacher had been educated in the USA. He spoke American English pretty good. He would ask us how we were doing. We told him, “Terrible, we are dying like flies.” He said, “Oh no, I read the newspaper, only one man has died.” We told him this was not so. We told him to go across the canyon and count the graves. 45 to 50 men are buried there. He may have gone there, because shortly afterwards two truckloads of Army soldiers’ came in and took the camp away from the Navy. With the Army guards in camp and the rations got a little better. But now we had two sets of Guards. Army Guards in the camp and Navy Guards on the jobs. Both had rifles. Some of the Army Guards were just as bad as or worse than the Navy Guards in their treatment of the prisoners.

Stu’s Notes:
A hero dies almost home but still far away from home, considering how far the War took him. Guadalcanal was a long way from Speedway West Virginia. What were his thoughts as he traveled on that lonely Troop Train through our little town. Thirty-three years old, quite old for a soldier, did he volunteer? I think he must have in 1942, I don’t think we were drafting men over 30. War was a young man’s game. He died in America, not in a battle, but could have died from the toll the battles took on his body. We probably will never know. Should he be honored in our Memorial? Yes, will and should be. We probably will never know any more about him. It was so long ago. But one day after I rediscovered the above article I sat down with my phone and dialed 411, my favorite way to find people. I soon talked to a nice lady in West Virginia. I think the Northern part. She looked long in her computer for me but could not find me a phone number in Speedway. So next I dial 411 ask for a John Smith or Jim Jones in Speedway. This works a lot but anymore you get an Answering Machine. Even little towns usually have a John Smith I got a number and left a message. I’m still waiting for a reply; if not soon, I will try again. Maybe I will use Bill Fox, but sooner or later I will find a live talking person in Speedway. Then hopefully find someone who knows the rest of the story. That I always want. They must not be Forgotten.

I was so glad at how the Parade turned out. Every one involved did a wonderful job. From what I saw there was a good turnout. The weather for Nov. 11th couldn’t have been better. Of coarse it hasn’t rained on our Parade one time in 16 years. It almost did but that only counts in horse shoes and hand grenades, or something like that. After the Parade my whole family went to Mission Square to have a great hot dog, a piece of Apple Pie and see some Chevrolets.

The Gentle Dentistry treated many Veterans that day. I was surprised at all the wonderful people working there. Hopefully many more of my friends will come next year. All the food was free. You could put money in a jar and they would match it up to 10,000 dollars. For our Veterans Memorial Park, so please come next year. I must also thank my Dentist, Dr. Sims Lowry and staff. They also treated Veterans All Day. We have some wonderful people in this town. A big thank you to Jim Hill-Chairman, Fran Baker – Co Chairman, Norma Peacher- Treasurer and Jan West Board members of the Reunion Committee for the Class of 1947 for their big donation to our Veterans Memorial Park. It is sad that their High School Reunions are ending, maybe as our class of ’58 might someday hook up with other years.