Segment 1


Wicker was born in Scotlandville, Louisiana in 1923. He had a good life growing up, his father worked for the railroad. Since his father worked, they were alright financially. He tried to play football in high school but it did not work out. He did not have any idea of the problems in the world until he was sixteen.Wicker wanted to join the Marines. He waited for the train to take him to New Orleans and when he got down he signed up for the Marines. They required a confirmation from his parents that he was 18. His parents vouched for him. He left for San Diego that same day. He was new to travel and the recruit depot was an interesting sight.He enjoyed the training. They went on the rifle range and went on hikes. He felt that he was trained well. He missed home to start with; he did not get any leave for four years. Wicker went into the 6th Marine Division to start with. One day he went up to the officer and asked him for a leave. He wanted a 30 day leave to go back to Louisiana; he was given 15 but he could not go back to Louisiana in that time. He was sent to sea school and that is how he winded up on the California [AnnotatorÂ’s Note: the USS California (BB-44)]. They taught the men how to make knots, wear their uniforms right, and other things having to do with serving at sea. Wicker does not recall how long he was in sea training. When they got ready to go on the California they were in Point Loma, California. He rode a tanker to Pearl Harbor.Pearl Harbor was a nice place to be. He was young and the trip to Pearl Harbor did not bother him, but after awhile he would have rather been back at home. A lot of guys were very sea sick. A boat took him across Pearl Harbor to the California. He recalls saluting the first officer he saw on the boat. He fell in with the new men. He had different types of guard duty on the ship. They were allowed a day or two here and there to go into Honolulu.They lost one Marine during the bombing; Wicker had just gotten off of that post. He was on guard duty on the forward part of the ship when the Japanese came in. One Japanese plane came very close to him. He thought they were using the USS California for practice maneuvers. At that point though a torpedo hit the ship and he knew it was for real. Wicker manned his battle station which was on a 5 inch gun. The first bomb that hit the California disabled the elevator that allowed them to bring ammunition up. The captain of the California was in town [AnnotatorÂ’s Note: probably Honolulu] when the attack occurred. When it was all over, the captain came back and saw the ship on a list.


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