January 8, 1945
Lt. Carl H. Bryant, 26, of Atascadero was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for courage and skill while serving as lead navigator on a bombing attack over a German built airfield near Bretigny, France. His B-17 was hit with heavy flak after dropping bombs. The plane was hit in hydraulic and gasoline lines and had lost a tire and radio from the ground fire. Lt. Bryant was wounded but stuck to his station and navigated the formation back to their home base. He also was awarded the Purple Heart and Air Medal. Prior to entering service he had been a bookkeeper at the Hancock College of Aeronautics in Santa Maria.
T-Sgt. Raymond Weaver, killed in action at Palau Island, was posthumously cited for bravery. He had made friends in San Luis Obispo while living in a home in San Luis Obispo for the five months he was stationed here.
Lt. Col. Elwyn G. Righetti of rural San Luis Obispo was no longer training pilots at Randolph Field in Texas; he was piloting a P-51 Mustang over Europe with the 55th Fighter Group. He had been part of a group that strafed an airfield between Stuttgart and Wurzburg, Germany. The group spotted an uncharted, camouflaged enemy base and destroyed 13 planes on the ground. Righetti was credited with three.
Field Marshal Sir Bernard Montgomery called a press conference and made an unexpected defense of his supreme commander, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower. He called out the British press, which he said had been unjustly critical of Eisenhower. "I am absolutely devoted to Ike. We are the greatest of friends … he bears a great burden, he needs our fullest support, and it is up to us to see that he gets it." Hitler's hope that Allied unity would shatter under pressure proved fantasy.
January 10, 1945
Fire destroyed an 85-foot rescue boat at Port San Luis. No one was injured. The boat was towed several hundred yards into the harbor away from the pier where it burned and sank. A board of army officers from the Santa Maria Air Field was scheduled to conduct an investigation. The boat was for rescuing survivors from downed planes on the coast.
Three San Luis Obispo County men were serving in Italy. S-Sgt. James L. McDermott, squad leader and Pvt. Richard Bullock, surgical technician of San Luis Obispo, and Cpl. Paul Papa, medical technician, were with the 363rd infantry in the Florence-Bologna offensive. Their unit had been engaged in hand-to-hand fighting on a rocky hill exposed to artillery and mortar fire.
Luzon was being invaded by 100,000 Americans who found light opposition on the beaches.
British and American troops were pressing German troops withdrawing from the Belgian Bulge. The Soviets were faced with a counter-attack aimed at Budapest. Troops were engaged along a 30-mile front.
Cal Poly president Julian McPhee said in a speech to the California State Veterinary Medical association that the college was preparing a series of short, intensive courses to prepare returning veterans. He expected many of the 600,000 Californians in the armed forces to take advantage of the G.I. Bill provisions.
A story on Page 5 reviewed a meeting between Stella Louis of San Luis Obispo and Mme. Chiang Kai-Chek. Mrs. Louis was the sister of Mrs. Pearl Chen, Mme. Chiang's personal secretary. She spoke at the Elks Club and shared stories of the meeting. The talk concluded with a request for support of the Chinese nationalist government from the United States. The selling point was that a strong China would be able to take on more of the fight against Japan.
January 12, 1945
American soldiers in the Sixth Army were 90 miles from Manila on the central Luzon Plains.
The Third U.S. Fleet attacked the French Indo-China coast (Vietnam) with carrier aircraft.
The Domei news agency in Japan reported that a "special attack corps" was carrying out "heroic ramming assaults" on American invasion ships.
The Soviet news agency Pravda said that Hungary would be forced to return Romanian and Czechoslovak territory taken in alliance with Germany. "Soviet policy intends to conquer and destroy Fascism and give freedom to the people."
German troops were pulling back from the once-threatening Ardennes bulge.
Pfc. Louis S. Mello was awarded the Purple Heart for wounds received July 21, 1944, while with the U.S. Marines on Guam. Prior to the war he farmed near Arroyo Grande. His brother Sgt. Joseph S. Mello was with the U.S. Army in the Philippine Islands.
Lt. Col. Elwyn G. Righetti had an active week flying from England. Quotes from an after-action report were included in a story. He was credited with completing the shoot-down of an enemy Messerschmitt 109 fighter. His flight leader Capt. Darrell S. Cramer had scored the first strikes on the aircraft but over ran it in pursuit. Wingman Righetti finished the task and both were credited with 1/2 aircraft downed. Though Righetti out-ranked the flight leader it was yet to be seen if the former flying instructor had the right stuff to lead fighter pilots, so he was assigned a wingman position. Righetti, 29, was almost a decade older than the average, an old man in fighter pilot circles. Some said there were two types of fighter pilots, aces or targets. Training missions were fine, but combat flights did the final sorting.