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The Catalina Islander
Avalon, California
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February 24, 2012     The Catalina Islander
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February 24, 2012
 

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Watson From page i tion, the finished product here still leaves much to be desired. I have decided to devote this week's column to the six casualties about whom I could find little or no information. Next week I will focus on the remaining five KIAs about which I have more informa- tion. The idea behind the ordering of these two columns, of course. is that more information might come out of the historical wood- work over the course of the next week and can be included in the second installment. I am especially inter- ested in the connection to Catalina that these men had. I suspect some of them were not perma- nent residents of the Is- land, but were perhaps the relatives of property owners or even frequent visitors to the Island. Whatever their re- lationship to the Island, they were evidently deemed "local" enough to have their names listed in the Honor Roll each week. The first "KIA" star to appear in the Honor Roll was placed next to the name of William Rexford Smith in the March 5, 1942, edi- tion of the paper. Smith was an aviation cadet with the U.S. Ma- rine Corps Reserve and was based at the newly-formed Naval Air Station at Corpus Christi, Texas, at the time of his death. According to his obituary in the Catalina Islander, Smith was only nine months old when the family mo;zed to Avalon in 1919. He had spent most of his life on thlsland, a place he "loved dearly," and spent summers working as a deck- hand on the glass bottom boats. He graduated from junior high at Avalon Schools before the family moved to Santa Monica where he later graduated from Santa Monica High. On the evening of March 2, 1942, Smith was practicing night. dive bombing when his plane-- Jim Watson Columnist probably a T-6 or a BT- 13 Valient crashed, killing him instantly. His parents, Sherman and Irene Smith, received the telegram in the early morning hours of March 3. Today, William Rexford Smith can be found in plot L80-4 at the Los Angeles National Cemetery in West Los Angeles. Of the 11 ca- sualties in the Avalon Honor Roll, geographically-speaking he is the closest to the Island. Another one of the early KIAs on the Honor Roll was Johnny Botello. Sandy Putnam is much too young to remember the war, but she does remember the Botello family and believes that Johnny died in the Bata- an Death March in 1942. The Botellos were fam- ily friends and Johnny and Sandy's uncle often worked on cars together in the garage at the fam- ily-owned residence at 117 Whittley Ave. Military records do show a "Pete" Botello, who served in the 200th Coastal Artillery Regiment in the Philippines and who., in fact, was classified as KIA in the Death March, but he entered the service through the New Mexico National Guard. Whether or not it is the same Botello is Unknown at this point. Sandy also remembers the fam- ily of John "Jack" Voelkel, another name on the Honor Roll, but had no information about John. I did find a grave listing for-"Jack Voelkel" at the Golden Gate National Cem- etery south of San Francisco. Ac- cording to the cemetery's website, he was a Marine Corps private and was born Jan. 27, 1922. He died on March 13, 1945, location un- known. He is listed by National Archives data as having had a sis- ter, Mrs. Virginia Vivian Lurid, in Alameda, California. U.S. Navy Machinists Mate 1st Class Alvin Silva was born July 12, 1912, and died on Feb. 4, 1944. According to the weekly Honor Roll, he was in the U.S. Navy's COnstruction Battalion, or Avalon locals gather recently for a meet and greet block party for a candidate for Avalon City Council and mayor. Photo by Jennifer Leonhardi "Seabees?' But Gina Nichols, ar- chivist for the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum at Port Hueneme can find no record of him. I did, however, manage to find a grave for "Silva, Alvin" at the Golden Gate Nation- al Cemetery. Then there were two names on the list that eluded virtually all at- tempts at identificatior]. These names did not appear on any of the casualty reports for the Army, Army Air Forceg, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard or Merchant Marine. They are Tom B. Jones and Wil- liam Donner. There were two possibilities for Jones, including a "Thomas Book- er Jones" and a "Thomas B. Jones Jr.". But the former hailed from Tennessee while the latter was from Maryland. Thomas Booker Jones was in the Navy and is listed on the Tablets of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines. Thomas Jones, Jr., was in the 17th Tank Battalion and is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at the Netherlands American Cemetery. The name William Donner was the greatest enigma of them all. His name first appears in the Cata- lina Islander (with a "KIA" star next to it) in the April 22, 1943, edition of the paper. But in all of my Internet searches and inter- views with local Islanders, no one could place the name. I could not find any "william Donner" or any variation thereof in any of the Na- tional Archives casualty reports for the Army, AAF, Navy, Marines, Coast Guard or Merchant Marine. In fact, no one even with the sur- name "Donner" is listed as having been killed during the war. Next week, I will focus on the remaining five Islander's killed in the war about whom, as men- tioned earlier, I have a great deal more information. If you have any information on the above individu- als, please send it_ to Mysterious Island, c/o Catalina Islander, PO Box 428, Avalon, CA 90704. You can also email it to us at manager@cinews.us or jim@ channelcatalina.com. Avalon Veteran's Memorial Park Purchase a Brick for the Memorial Contact Dave Gardner (310) 510-1464 or write: Avalon Veterans of Foreign Wars P.O. Box 1672 Avalon, Ca 90704 Nos hemos asociado con HealthStream, una organizaci6n naCional con una excelente reputaci6n para la recopilaci6n de informaci6n sobre las experiencias de los pacientes. Es posible que ellos se pongan en contacto con usted por telfono para preguntarle acerca de su experiencia en el Centro de Salud de la Isla deCatalina. La Encuesta se Ilevar unos diez minutos. Sus respuestas son confidenciales La encuestapodria llevarse a cabo en Ingles o Espafiol. Su privacidad ser completamente respetada. La persona que llama no es un profesional de la salud y el identificador de llamadas los identificaran como HealthStream Research Si tiene cualquier pregunti sobre la encuesta, por favor llame al (310) 510-0700. (310) 510-0700 oo Falls Canyon Road Catahna00 PO Box 1563,Avalon 90704 Island00 ledmaiCenter www.CIMedicialCenter.org 8 Friday, February 24, 2012 THE CATALINA ISLANDER ;:I! ,i " " i:' ! 17i' i ....... i r; I',;i c ' 'iq ..... ! ]i!!iil ' :!' ....... "+'  ' " ...........