The Tribune’s Dec. 23 article by Dan Krieger on the sinking of the Montebello has come to my attention. I notice Krieger mentions the sailors from the tanker, sunk by shells from a Japanese submarine, were cared for at the Mountain View Hospital.
I was just home from Stanford for the holiday when my father told me about the incident, and how sailors from the ship had been brought to his hospital, the San Luis Obispo Sanitarium. I recall him saying his nurses had serious difficulty in cleaning up the men who were covered in oil.
I remember my father saying he’d talked to newsmen from Los Angeles and they were racing up to San Luis Obispo — they thought they’d make the trip in three hours, an astonishing time for 1941 — to photograph the survivors and interview my father for use in a newsreel.
At home (1460 Mill St.) a little later that afternoon I heard and saw a man from the Telegram-Tribune walking down our block yelling “extra, extra,” with newspapers about the sinking in his arms.
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So the Telegram-Tribune was the only paper in the United States to carry the story of the sinking. The War Department, evidently nervous about the possibility of panic in the country, killed the story. No one attempted to print it after the edict.
The men from Los Angeles came up and went home emptyhanded, and my father never got to see his picture glaring from newsreel screens around the nation.