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July 18, 2014
Oroville Mercury Register
February 26, 1946
Gerhart, Prisoner of Japanese, Home Again
Walter Gerhart of Long Beach formerly of Oroville, is at home again after imprisonment for three years and eight months by the Japanese. As one of the 1100 civilian employees taken prisoner on Wake Island in April 1942 while employed by the Pacific Naval Air Base Contractors, Gerhart was released and returned to the United States in October 1945, and is now at a hospital in Long Beach. When released he plans to return to Oroville to make his home. While a prisoner of the Japanese, Gerhart’s job, like that of many others taken at the time, was one of making a reproduction of Mt. Fujiyama of soil. At the time of his capture he weighed 145 pounds and when released tipped the scales at 98. The man-built mountain was to be used by the Japanese as a rifle range and for training their troops. The men were taken from Wake Island 350 at a time and sent to Japan, according to Gerhart. He said that the last 98 were taken out and shot. Before going to Wake Island for civilian employment, he was employed locally by a dredging company here and made his home in Oroville.
Stu- This is all we know of this man.

From Looking on Oroville Heroes
September 30, 2005
Oroville Boy Helped Take Saipan Isle

Corp. Richard R. Warmack of Oroville was in the third wave of U. S. Marines that charged the tough Japanese defenses of Saipan, helped crack that island’s “Little Maginot Line”, and won for the U. S. the bloodiest battle so far of the Pacific war. Conquest of the island a key in Japan’s inner defense line, is regarded by many as a turning point in the war. Two letters from Corp Warmack telling a little about the Saipan engagements, were received here Tuesday by the parents, Mr. and Mrs. Randall Warmack. “The censors let up a little, so I can tell you I’m on the island of Saipan,” wrote the Oroville boy. “I landed in the third wave and believe me it was plenty hot. Shells, mortars and bullets were whizzing in every direction. ‘My outfit has done an excellent job – for that matter I think every marine on the island has done his job, no matter how tough the going was.” He said he was relaxing a little now and reading the magazines sent to him. Living in a Japanese house, Corp. Warmack said that he and his buddies listen to the news beamed from San Francisco and from Tokyo. Tokyo Rose, a girl reporter, furnished them with considerable entertainment, he said. Warmack told, too, how he watched a marine anti-aircraft gun crew bring down a Japanese bomber over Saipan with only five shells fired. The local youth, who joined the marines in Jan. 1943 while he was a high school senior, had been six months in the Pacific early this July. A first class private while he was in the Marshalls engagement, he was promoted to corporal when his outfit took a breather in a rest camp. He is serving in radio communications.

Stu- Saipan was 70 years ago; we have not forgotten in Oroville. This was given to me from committee member Wayne Brock Sam Kingsbury; Cub Scout Pack 29 and the California State Park along with American Legion Post 95 Facilitates A Flag Retirement Ceremony on May 24th at Sunset. This ceremony was held at the Loafer Creek Campground Amphitheatre. This Ceremony was open to the public. About 20 were in attendance. This ceremony is held every year on Memorial weekend, Saturday. In Attendance: Sam Kingsbury Club master Hunter Kingsbury Boy Scout, Russell Kingsbury, Cub Scout, Ron Scharbor, Wayne Brock, and Jonathan Taylor of Post 95 and Mike Hubbart of the State Parks.

Stu’s Notes:
For years I kept the 1946 O.M.R.s in a box. Well, for about a year now I’ve been going through some of them. They are full of stories of the men returning from the War. Just the other day I picked out one with the above story of Walter Gerhart. He was listed as P.O.W. so I had Daryl put him on our list of those to honor thinking he might not have come home and with the P.O.W. listed we would make sure. Well now we know that he came home and we will remove him form our list. Although he was a civilian at the time of his capture, I’ve always thought that they were giving military status when they came home. For one thing when the Japanese captured Wake and other Island’s in the Pacific some of the civilians fought along side the men in our Armed Forces, many were shot execution style on the Beaches after their capture. Recently I’ve read more and more about this and will have a story on a father and son that were captured. I have the story but need the permission of my friend’s sister to write it. Saipan, 70 years since the Brave Marines landed there, fought and died. Seems like the rest of the world has forgotten this Battle. It was the 1st Island that we took in the Pacific that was close enough for our B29’s to fly to Japan and back. Soon it will be 70 years since we invaded the Philippines. Was this necessary? The Army said yes. The Navy said no. So many Civilians died in the fight there. Could it have been by-passed on our way to Japan?

Marine Corporal Richard Warmack came home and for years had a really neat store down town. He still lives in Oroville.