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February 14, 2014
The Oroville Mercury Register
August 17, 1946
Oroville Man Describes Battle Between Chinese Reds, Marines

Things are “snafu” somewhere near Peiping, China, for some members of the United States Marine Corps. What he describes as undeclared warfare between Chinese Communists and marines is graphically described in a letter to Mr. and Mrs. Jess Roden of Oroville from their son Billy, a marine. The letter, written Aug. 6. said in part: “have you heard anything about what the Communists are doing to us over here? They are really treating us rough. “A couple of days ago our patrol was ambushed,” The letter continued, “and five of our guys were killed. It was a well laid ambush.” Roden went on to explain how 65 marines were driving along a highway there when Communist forces attacked them. The Communists threw hand grenades into the trucks from hidden spots in a cornfield. “They had fox holes and trenches dug right beside the road and as nobody was in them all of our guys made a dive for them. I was about the first one to get to them. “The Chinese had sharp sticks stuck in the bottom of them so when we dove in we would land on them. I landed between two and was unhurt although some others were not so lucky. There were only 65 marines against 250 Communist troops, Roden wrote. “but you know the old legend about the fighting Marine Corps? I was proud to be a Marine.” Four Marines were lost through grenades and one soldier was killed when his jeep overturned. Six marines were injured by the sharp sticks, Roden continued, while two other lost their lives from rifle fire. “Our lieutenant gave the order to charge and I wish you could have seen the Chinese? At first they thought we were advancing just a little but when they saw that we meant business they really shoved off in a hurry.” The encounter left 13 Americans out of commission through wounds, Roden said, but there were 72 dead Chinese and an undetermined number wounded. No count could be made, he said because the enemy forces took their wounded with them. “I wish they would either declare war or get us out of here. I don’t like to be in an undeclared war where the other side does all the attacking.”

Stu’s Notes:
I am surprised that the above story made it pass the censors and glad Dan Beebe wasn’t afraid to run it. The Cold War, WWII is over, we soon got into the Cold War shortly thereafter. I often wonder (that famous saying) “What if?” What if we had helped the Chinese Nationalists more to win control of China? Would the world be better for it or not. Certainly many young American men would have died in China if we did help the Nationalists and America had already lost 400,000 plus men in the previous WWII. But if we had helped the Nationalists under General Chiang Kai Shek and they who were our friends throughout WWII, took control of China, would Korea and Vietnam not have happened. Those wars took the lives of over 100,000 young American men plus 100’s of thousands wounded. What if?” Young Oroville Marine Billy Roden was ready for what it took. “I wish they would either declare war or get us out of here. I don’t like to be in an undeclared war where the other side does all the attacking.” I just have this to say we, material wise, were prepared for war in China to help the Nationalist, we were not prepared material wise for Korea or Vietnam. We had a country full of brave men who went to those wars basically with one arm tied behind their back! I asked Oroville Veterans Memorial Park for All of Butte County Committee member, Wayne Brock, who joined the Army in 1947, “Would you have gone into China back then if needed?” His one word answer was “Absolutely!” The Cold War went on for over 40 more years, it took many American lives, mostly by accidents, but you can see from the above story, from that young brave Oroville man that through the years many died from hostile action. Anyway America pulled out of China and General Chiang Kai Shek fought on until late 1949 and moved his Armies to the safety of Formosa, where they are to this day. On our Web site we have 19 men that died in the Cold War from Butte County, 14 from Oroville, 4 from Chico, 1 from Gridley and none that we know of from Paradise. I know there are more we just do not have enough help to research to find them. Thank you to the Oroville Union High School Class of 1948 who have closed out their reunion account and recently presented us a nice check from one of their committee members, Norm McKenzie.