A promise fulfilled: Thorntons receive Five Star Banner

R.L. "Louie" Wilson, Commander of Hodges Post #84 of the American Legion in Oroville, presents  a Five Star Banner  to Delores Thornton Hogue of Oroville and  Margaret Thornton Malm of Wenatchee.

R.L. “Louie” Wilson, Commander of Hodges Post #84 of the American Legion in Oroville, presents a Five Star Banner to Delores Thornton Hogue of Oroville and Margaret Thornton Malm of Wenatchee.

Family credits recent newspaper article, local Legion Post

“Thank you so kindly for the  instrumental role played in the resolution of this now 69-year-old accidental deed.” Tom Wilburn, Member of the Thornton Family

CASHMERE – It was World War II and an Oroville family had five children who stepped up to serve in the U.S. Armed Services – this month they received the Five Star Banner promised to those brave siblings’ mother, nearly 70 years ago.

R.L. “Louie” Wilson, Commander of Hodges Post 84 of the American Legion in Oroville, presented the flag to Delores Thornton Hogue of Oroville and Margaret Thornton Malm of Wenatchee.

“The Commander presented the flag to my aunts and Aunt Deloris returned to Oroville with the flag as it was earned by an Oroville family and it only seemed appropriate it should find a home in the valley,” said Thomas Wilburn, who wrote to The Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune with the story of his and his family’s quest to receive the banner which was promised by the War Department, but was never received. All Wilburn had was a partial clipping his mother had saved from the Oroville Weekly Gazette from 1945. After an article appeared in the Gazette-Tribune last November, Commander Wilson contacted Wilburn and the family and arranged to have the flag presented at a family reunion the Saturday, Aug. 9 in Cashmere.

“Thank you so kindly for your instrumental role played in the resolution of this now 69-year-old accidental deed,” said Wilburn after the military’s promise was finally fulfilled through Oroville’s American Legion Post.

Originally, the flag was to be given to the late Mr. and Mrs. Earl Thornton for their five children, all serving the country during wartime. Their children, Cpl. Oscar Thornton and Cpl. Ernie Thornton, were both in France at the time; Pvt. Preston Thornton was with the Merchant Marine in the Pacific, nurse Laura Thornton was in training at Good Samaritan Hospital in Portland and Verna Thornton was a Wave with the U.S. hospital staff in Jacksonville, Florida, according to the article which was sent to the Thornton’s hometown newspaper.

Wilburn said the article was sent to his mother Verna Thornton in Jacksonville where she cared for burned Air Force pilots that were returned from Europe.

From what his mother told him, her parents never received the flag promised in the article sent to the Gazette by the military. He said he had been in touch with local legislators with the hope that the United States would make up for this oversight and make good on the promise made to the Thornton family nearly seven decades ago. He said all the efforts were to no avail until a new article appeared in the family’s hometown newspaper.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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