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Corporal/Specialist Scofield enlisted in the Army (Air Force) in 1944 and served until 1946 in the 1377th Air Force Base Unit. Interviewed by George Walters on Mar 16, 2006, Scofield talked about military experiences in the Second World War. The 2005 Kansas Legislature passed a bill funding the WWII Veterans Oral History grant program. This transcript is from one of the nine community institutions that received these grants. The transcript from the interview is presented here; the original audio copy of the interview is available through the Emporia State University (Flint Hills) and through the Kansas State Historical Society.

Growing up during the Great Depression, Bill Scofield didn't seem to experience hardships, but he said he was young and probably didn't realize how it affected his mother and grandparents. At the age of seventeen, he and his fried, Dick Wood, enlisted in the Army Air Corp Reserves. He was a senior in high school at the time so was not inducted until in September of 1945. The war had ended in August so they weren't sure that they would still take them, but they did. Basic training was at Keesler Field in Biloxi, Mississippi and he tells about a particular encampment they went on, and he became ill with a cold. He ended up in the base hospital for a couple of days, and in the meantime his friend Dick was shipped out. When his basic training was over with he became an MP and said that he learned two things - "one was to like beer" and the other was to drink black coffee to stay awake at night. When they worked the gates they carried a .45 but the clip was kept in their pocket, they weren't allowed to have them loaded. During his time at Keesler Field he also visited New Orleans several times, and was able to attend the Sugar Bowl game on New Years Day in 1946. He remembers going home at Christmas after the war was over and there were thousands of service people going home for the first time, there was no place to sit on the train. The aisles were full and they sat between the trains on their duffle bags. At that time the South was still segregated and the conductor came through and said, "All you black boys or black gals that are here have got to go to the back car of the train. And if you don't go back there, we can't get started." A Marine who had evidently been in a lot of battles from the amount of ribbons he wore, told him that if they didn't get the train moving he was going to throw him off the train. and soon they were on their way. He then was assigned to Westover Field Air Force Base at Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts which is near Springfield. When they found out that he could type he was promoted to corporal and appointed to the office of the hospital for personnel. One of the benefits was that he had his own room and the food was very good. His friend, the master sergeant, took him to his home in Boston several times and he was also able to visit New York City frequently. One of his duties was to pick up the pay and distribute it to the men; he wore a gun but again, kept the clip in his pocket. Bill said that the only stress he ever had was just being afraid he wouldn't make it back to the base on time after being in New York for the weekend. He received his discharge at Westover in November of 1946 and wanted to get back in school as soon as possible. The G.I. Bill helped him out a lot with his college education and he received both his Bachelors and Master's degrees from Wichita State. For a while he also played minor league baseball with the KOM league in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. He got his first job in teaching at Independence, Kansas, became an administrator and in 1971 joined Emporia State University as professor of Educational Administration. He and his wife, Mary Lou, have three sons and five grandchildren

Creator: Scofield, Bill Harold
Date: 16 March 2006

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Item Number: 211458
Call Number: World War II Oral Histories Project
KSHS Identifier: DaRT ID: 211458

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