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Albemarle Tradewinds November 2016 Web Final

November 2016

Augustus Patrick,

Augustus Patrick, Jr.’s Fateful Raid on Messina By: David Bennett, Curator at the Port o’ Plymouth Museum Following the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the U.S. Army Air Force rapidly deployed bombers to Asia in an attempt to thwart further Japanese aggression. Among the airmen sent abroad was Augustus Patrick, Jr., of Roper, North Carolina. Patrick flew in B-17’s and B-24’s as a tail-gunner. Initially, he found himself flying in daring daylight bombing raids against the Japanese in China and Burma. Ultimately, Patrick fought his way around the globe from Asia to North Africa where he helped defeat the German Afrika Korps. He would eventually encounter his greatest challenge not in the skies over Asia or North Africa but over Sicily. While enemy forces were on the verge of destruction in North Africa, Allied bombing focused its efforts on ports located in Sicily to hinder the enemy’s resupply and retreat. On January 31, 1943, while bombing the port of Messina, Patrick’s bomber formation was attacked by a large number of German fighters. One German ME-109 landed hits in the tail section of Patrick’s Liberator with its 20mm cannon. The explosion from the cannon shells severely wounded Patrick in the feet and in one of his knees. With the oxygen supply shot out and the gasoline line holed, the upper and rear turrets were rendered useless. Despite his injuries, Patrick dragged himself from the rear of the plane to one of the waist guns where he continued to fight. Miraculously, Patrick’s B-24 was able to make an emergency landing on the island of Malta where it was discovered that the bomber was riddled with more than 800 bullet and cannon holes. For his heroic actions that day, Patrick received the Distinguished Service Cross. He also received the Order of the Purple Heart for the wounds he sustained in combat. Due to his wounds, Patrick spent the next five months hospitalized and was sent to a hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, to recuperate. His recovery was somewhat complicated due to an infection that developed in his right foot. Patrick was fortunate to be alive and was fortunate enough to survive the war. Comments? E-Mail (Photo courtesy of the Jones Family) Special thanks to the Golden Skillet and U.S. Cellular for sponsoring this article on behalf of the Port o’ Plymouth Museum. The Albemarle Tradewinds reaches 60k readers each month in printed and social media ...... call Ken and learn how. 252-333-7232 Helping Northeastern NC Families since 1998 with Personal Loans Automobile Financing Retail Financing Convenient terms to fit your budget Apply online, or give us a call: 338-9008 145 Rich Blvd ~ Elizabeth City 441-4422 1300 S Croatan Hwy ~ Kill Devil Hills 232-3320 109 Currituck Commercial Dr ~ Moyock Mention this ad for a free gift! 14 Albemarle Tradewinds November 2016

THE OLD COLUMBIA THEATER By Jimmy Fleming I forget the first time I went to the movies at the Columbia theater. It was probably the late fifties’ or early sixties’ and I might have been 7 or 8 years old. I do remember that I thought it was the greatest place I had ever been to. Mr. Jessie Spencer and his wife Mrs. Wilma ran the theater and Mr. Dick Weatherly was the projectionist. I don’t remember who the popcorn boy was at the time, but I remember thinking that there wasn’t a better job in the whole world . All the free popcorn you could eat, free movies, and having everyone envy you were very good benefits. I believe it cost a quarter to get in and then drinks and popcorn were 10 cents while candy was a nickel. The old candy case was a favorite spot for me. I loved those caramel things with the confectionery sugar centers, cracker jacks, Boston baked beans, and of course Baby Ruth’s. I enjoyed many Saturday afternoons watching westerns and horror movies. It was a time when all movies were rated G and the hottest scene in the theater was in a dark corner of the back row where the teenagers were necking. Going to the movies at the Columbia Theater are some of the best memories I have and worth every hard earned quarter that my folks paid out . It was a sad day for Columbia when the last movie was shown and the doors were locked for the last time. The original Columbia Theater was built by a German immigrant named Fred Schlez about 1938. It attracted movie audiences from all over the Albemarle area in its hay day. Sadly, as things changed in neighboring areas, the theater closed in the late 1960s, and the building remained vacant for almost 30 years. In 1995, the Partnership for The Sounds purchased the building and began the huge project to restore the crumbling facade to its glory days. The Columbia Theater Cultural Resources Center opened in 1998 and is a proud part of Main Street in downtown Columbia today. Visitors can explore exhibits of environmental and cultural history dedicated to the local Albemarle estuary habitats, and the effects of development on the region. You will find a variety of antiques and other local treasures that give insight into Columbia’s rich but mostly unknown past. Visitors will find household items, business, fishing and farming equipment, a gift shop, and even a bit of theater history saved from the old building. The Columbia Theater Cultural Resources Center is the perfect spot for area newcomers, school groups, history lovers, wildlife fans, and anyone passing through who would like to discover what rural life has been like in this part of the Albemarle area over the past 100 or so years. To find out more info about the museum or to arrange a group tour, you can check out these web sites: or http://www. or call 252-766-0200 or 252-796-1000. Did you know the Albemarle Tradewinds is located in more than 250 locations in NENC and Chesapeake? The Dismal Swamp State Park is seeking nature-based vendors for their upcoming 4th annual Dismal Day to be held at the Dismal Swamp State Park in Camden County on Saturday, October 22nd from 10 am - 2 pm. If you are interested, please contact Lisa Doepker at (252)771- 6593 or by email at Albemarle Tradewinds November 2016 15