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April 25, 2014
Oroville Mercury Register
October 14, 1946
GIs Lose Friend, Hero of Burma Mourned By His ‘Foot-Sloggers’

San Francisco –(U.P.)- The ashes of Joseph W. Stilwell, probably the most loved general ever to wear general’s stars in the Army of the United States, will be strewn over the Pacific Ocean Wednesday near his home in Carmel. Gruff, plain spoken “Vinegar Joe” died Saturday at Letterman Hospital at 63, in a common ward, scorning to the end any privileges not available to the foot soldier he loved so well. Sunday, through the dull, methodic boom of cannon saluting the dead, fired at half-hour intervals at the Presidio, messages of condolence poured in from every corner of the world. General Stillwell, gaunt and grizzled, was the most outspoken champion of the foot soldier, He knew that it was the patience and bravery of the “foot-slogger” that won the battles and to them he was never “big brass” but only “Uncle Joe.” High point in the career of Vinegar Joe must have been V-J day, even through he had been appointed before then to the rank of full general by the late President Roosevelt. Always frank, he openly declared in 1942, “We got run out of Burma and it was humiliating as hell.” The Japanese surrender in 1945 evened up that score. To the boys he led to safety through the fearful retreat in Burma in 1942, Gen. Stilwell’s face appeared ageless with the battered look of China’s bloody and exhausted soil. When angry, as only he could be, his keen blue eyes burned, when happy, they sparkled. Uncle Joe entered West Point at 18, after his wild pranks of adolescence became too much for his father. He emerged from the First World War a lieutenant colonel when pacifism was rife. He asked for active duty and got it - in China. While There He mastered the art of war and the art of languages, he never achieved diplomacy – he said what he meant and meant what he said. “You can’t have salad dressing without mixing a little vinegar with the oil,” he told a friend. Major Emmet J. Theisen of Detroit, Gen. Stilwell’s pilot in Burma, will fly the plane containing his ashes. It was Theisen who piloted Gen. Stilwell over the “hump” 50 times in an un-armed cargo plane. He is survived by his widow the former Winifred Allison Smith and five children including Col. Joseph Jr., Nancy, wife of Col. Ernest F. Easternbrook, Winifred wife of Maj. William E. Cox, Allison Stilwell, a daughter and Benjamin W., a student at Stanford University.

Stu’s Notes:
General Joseph Stilwell “Vinegar Joe” was a hero not only of America but of the World, a few from Oroville and Butte County served under his command. He and his men fought in one of the most terrible places in the world, Burma. I truly believe his early death was brought on by his years fighting the Japanese in that far off country. He was true to his men and wanted nothing more than what they had. The above story on Gen. Stilwell was a good well written story but it left off how he and his “men” went back and kicked the Japanese out of Burma. Oroville Veterans’ Memorial Park for All of Butte County Committee Member Bill Fox’s father fought under his command. His tile in our Memorial Wall will say “Roy Lee Fox WWII 1942-1945 Med. Vac. Burma Silver Star.” You don’t win it you get it through your Valor. The Silver Star is one of the Highest Medals that can be bestowed on a man. Oroville’s Captain Raymond Leonard was there, in the thick of the fighting. The Oroville Mercury quoted him in one of their articles, September19, 1944. “The good Lord was really with me on a number of occasions, and believe me, I have great confidence in Him.” You can read the rest of Capt. Leonard ‘s story on our web site. Well we’ve just had our 4th meeting of the Memorial Day Ceremony coming up this May 26th at the Memorial Park Cemetery on Lincoln Blvd.. The “Voice” of Oroville, Jim Moll will be our Master of Ceremonies, followed by a star studded cast of Oroville’s Patriotic people. This is always a most beautiful ceremony.