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Willows, CA, December 1944


By Wm. T. Davis

When the war dept. sent its telegram last week to the parents of Lieut. Alfred Prentice, briefly informing them that their son had died as the result of wounds received during an engagement at Leyte, it gave not particulars---merely made the announcement and added its stereotyped expression of sympathy.

To Glenn County friends and relatives of the heroic young soldier, the news brought to memory past performances of the lad who once attended the Willows public schools, and who, in 1939 entered the United States air forces. His acts of thoughtfulness, courage and resourcefulness have been heralded by his superior officers, as examples by which other servicemen might profit.

While engaged in maneuvers in Louisiana, during the early days of his training, Prentice received a citation for bravery and efficient performance of duty, following the recovery of the bodies of two men who had been drowned in rivers. Part of that citation read:

"Your diligence and skillful efforts on the occasion and your willingness to take personal risks over and above the required performance of your duties, are most worthy of commendation. The regiment is proud of your exemlary conduct displayed on these two occasions."

Following Prentice's training period in Louisiana, he was sent to an officers' training school at Fort Riley, Kan., and later transferred to El Paso, Tex., where he completed his training and was graduated with the rank of second lieutenant.

In July of 1943, Lt. Prentice was assigned to duty in the South Pacific. A delayed message, dated March 7, of this year revealed the part the former Willows youth was taking in the hostilities in that area. The message revealed how 20 cavalry men, led by Lt. Prentice had captured a pre-war mission on Los Negros, in the Admiralty group and had routed the Japanese from their barracks there.

"Each American," said the report, "had to do the work of six, Amphibious tanks, each loaded with 20 men and an officer, left a beach below Saimai plantation, but five of them ran afoul of the shoals."

Lt. Prentice, officer in command of the sixth tank, refused to turn back. The tank proceeded to the mission point. With rockets and machine guns blazing, Lt. Prentice and his men landed. A sergeant plunged into the jungle. A japanese rifle cracked, Lt. Prentice went to get the sergeant. Although shot through the right arm, Prenitce continued until he reached the dead sergeant's body. He picked it up. On his way back to the shore, he was again shot in the shoulder."

A Japanese group attacked the landing party. After the landing party had killed 11 of the attackers, the Americans retreated.

"With his right arm hanging limp," continued the report, "the lieutenant led his men down the trail to a native hut which had served as a mission house. Around it the Japanese had built a barricade. The lieutenant ordered an attack. Taking the hut the patrol found 27 Japanese all dead.

It was not until the mission point was in American hands that Lt. Prentice concented to be evacuated.

With such a record of bravery and ability behind him, friends and relatives of Lt. Prentice are awaiting a word of some outstanding deeds of courage and valer in connection with the wound that caused his death.

Lt. Prentice married Miss Marjorie White on May 27, 1940. She now resides in New Orleans, La.

In addition to his widow, the young soldier is survived by his father, William Prentice of Willows; his mother, Mrs. Hazel Prentice of Tule Lake, Utah, Cal., and one sister, Mrs. Victor Benamati of Willows.

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