The World War II draft called thousands of Oregonians into the armed forces, many of them with backgrounds similar to Dick Rone of the Nonpareil neighborhood east of Sutherlin.
Born on Dec. 23, 1908, Rone attended school in Nonpareil and worked at the Bonanza and Nonpareil mercury mines, where he earned about $4 a day with a half hour for lunch, time enough, he said, to eat two or three sandwiches and an apple.
Drafted at age 34, Rone served as an Air Force flight engineer in the South Pacific on a B-24 bomber named Beautiful Betsy. None of the crew suffered injury from enemy gunfire, although Rone recalled in an interview that bullets once pierced the plane and cut his parachute harness.
After the war, Rone worked with a gypo logging outfit and as a rancher. He died at age 105 as one of the valley’s best known veterans.
Beautiful Betsy flew 22 combat missions before being retired to cargo duty. It crashed and disappeared on Feb. 26, 1945, on a flight from Darwin to Brisbane, Australia. It was not until 1994 that some loggers stumbled across the wreckage and bodies of eight servicemen.
Sources: Personal interview, February, 2011; "B-24D-53-CO "Beautiful Betsy" Serial Number 42-40387." Pacific Wrecks.com. 27 Aug. 2014. Web. 22 Oct. 2014. <http://www.pacificwrecks.com/aircraft/>.