Segment 1


Byron Othello Wilkins, who goes by B.O. Wilkins, was named after his father. He grew up in northeast Arkansas in Luxora, which was south of Blytheville and north of Memphis. Wilkins participated in school. He wanted to study chemical engineering but only two schools in the south were accredited. He decided to go to LSU over Georgia Tech and started in Baton Rouge in 1941. Military training was required for the first two years at LSU. On 7 December 1941 Wilkins was living in the stadium with the other men. The radio announced that Pearl Harbor had been attacked and the men gathered and began to march towards the Commandants house but he was out of town. They marched to the Presidents house at the General Hodges House and asked the President what they should do. He responded that the men should go back to class and get straight As. In November of 1942 the Enlisted Reserve Corps opened and 130 joined up. They thought they would be able to stay in school and finish their degrees. Around Easter, the men were sent to Camp Beauregard and then to Camp Maxey, Texas for basic training. The 102nd Ozark Division [Annotators Note: 102nd Infantry Division] was the main unit. Wilkins and the men were in what they called the Jap Trap, which were tiny plywood barracks. They stayed for the summer for basic training after which 120 were assigned to return to LSU for engineering. Ten out of that group were sent to Oklahoma A and M for advanced engineering and that got the men through the basic training. Wilkins had a provisional regiment that consisted of men from the Enlisted Reserve Corps from five states including New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Louisiana. College kids formed the provisional regiment and they knew a lot of infantry training from ROTC. The excessive heat would make the men sick. They took physical training and someone got lost at one point. The men went into the town of Paris, Texas to search for the missing man but Wilkins does not remember if they ever found him. Some men participated in a band and orchestra and they were flown to Bonham, Texas to participate to a preflight base to play for a dance. Wilkins envied their sleeping arrangements. Wilkins did not have sheets or good bunks or good food. The people in town were nice to Wilkins and the men in the local town. The girls were home during the summertime so they had a lot of dances. Wilkins became company commander of Company G which was predominately LSU boys. They were assigned to the ASTP and were excited when they learned they were going back to college.


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