Interview with Wilbur Jenkins, August 24, 2017

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:01 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: The following interview was recorded on August 24th, 2017 in the studio of the Scott County Public Library.

Segment Synopsis: Wilbur Jenkins is introduced. Information about his military service is given.

Keywords: 15th Regiment, 6th Marine Division; Artilleryman; Marines; Pacific; World War II

Subjects: United States. Marine Corps; World War, 1939-1945--Veterans.

00:00:31 - Father and mother

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Partial Transcript: So, Wilbur it's good having you in here today.

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about growing up on his family's farm in Scott County, Kentucky. He talks about his father's job as a general handyman for the Scott County school system and tells the story of how his parents met.

Keywords: 1928; Accidents; Airplanes; Family farms; Fathers; First responders; Georgetown (Ky.); Grandfathers; Handyman; Jobs; Leesburg Road; Mechanics; Meeting; Mothers; Parents; Plane crashes; Roads; Sadieville (Ky.); Scott County school system; Siblings; Work; World War I veterans

Subjects: Childhood; Employment--Kentucky; Families.; Occupations; Scott County (Ky.)

GPS: Scott County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.3, -84.58
00:07:08 - Childhood in Scott County, Kentucky

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Partial Transcript: And so you were growing up probably--let's see it's been--oh, nineteen thirties.

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins says he didn't really notice that he was growing up during the Great Depression. He talks about his school experiences and talks about discipline in school. He talks about chores on the family farm.

Keywords: 1930s; Animals; Baseball games; Beekeeping; Bees; Chores; Cows; Fathers; Floods; Food; Great Crossing Baptist Church; Great Depression; Income; Ironworks Road; Leer School; Louisville (Ky.); Milking; Ponies; Schools; Selling; Siblings; Stealing; Teachers

Subjects: Childhood; Depressions--1929--Kentucky; Discipline of children; Education--Kentucky; Families.; Family farms; School discipline; Scott County (Ky.)

GPS: Scott County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.3, -84.58
00:16:39 - Deciding to enlist in the Marine Corps

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Partial Transcript: So ninth grade, that was your last year of school?

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about seeing other people from his school join the military and how that influenced him to try to enlist. He was fifteen at the time and talks about how he circumvented the age minimum to enlist. He talks about why he chose the Marines over other branches of the military and talks about his induction in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Keywords: 1943; Age; Army; Buses; Cincinnati (Ohio); Classmates; Decisions; Draft notices; Dropping out; Enlisting; Fathers; Friends; Lifestyles; Marines; Medical; Military draft; Mothers; Navy; Overwhelming; Pearl Harbor; Reactions; Scott County (Ky.); Shots (Inoculations); Signing; Uniforms; World War II; Young

Subjects: Clothing and dress.; United States--Armed Forces--Recruiting, enlistment, etc; United States. Marine Corps; World War, 1939-1945

GPS: Cincinnati (Ohio)
Map Coordinates: 39.1, -84.516667
00:27:56 - Basic training in San Diego, California

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Partial Transcript: Got on a train, headed for San Diego.

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about taking a train to San Diego for basic training and describes his daily routine while there. He talks about his drill instructors, people who tried to get out of having their hair cut, and whether basic training prepared him for the war.

Keywords: Barbershops; Dentists; Drill instructors; Fatigues; Haircuts; Marines; Orders; Preparation; Rank; Refusal; Roll call; Routines; San Diego (Calif.); Teeth; Trains; Uniforms

Subjects: Basic training (Military education); Military discipline.; United States. Marine Corps; World War, 1939-1945

GPS: San Diego (Calif.)
Map Coordinates: 32.715, -117.1625
00:34:56 - Advanced training at Camp Pendleton

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Partial Transcript: Heck yeah. I did a stint in Pendleton.

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about continuing on to artillery training at Camp Pendleton. he talks about the training he received regarding dynamite, tear gas, hand grenades, and anti-aircraft guns.

Keywords: Advanced training; Aerial artillery; Anti-aircraft guns; Artillery; Demolitions; Drills; Dynamite; Fuses; Guns; Hand grenades; Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton; Practice; Tear gas

Subjects: Basic training (Military education); Camp Pendleton (Calif.); Military discipline.; United States. Marine Corps; World War, 1939-1945

GPS: Camp Pendleton (Calif.)
Map Coordinates: 33.333333, -117.416667
00:42:12 - Shipping out on the USS President Polk

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Partial Transcript: Uh, so you got--you get assigned to the 6th Marines and then you're in the 14th, uh, artillery of that, of that unit.

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about his experience on the USS President Polk where he was seasick the entire journey.

Keywords: Bunks; Marines; Seasick; Shipped out; Transport ships; U.S.S. President Polk (AP-103); USS President Polk (AP-103)

Subjects: United States. Marine Corps; World War, 1939-1945

00:46:12 - Landing in New Caledonia

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Partial Transcript: And where was it, where was it that they, they finally dropped everybody off?

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about being originally stationed in New Caledonia, where troops were sent before being shipped to other places in the Pacific. He talks about the relations between the U.S. military and the native population. He talks about working with the Navy Corpsmen, and tells a few stories about his friend Paul Simon's experience as an infantryman.

Keywords: Battles; Bougainville; Friends; Guadalcanal; Guam; Infantryman; Lectures; Marines; Natives; Navy corpsman; New Caledonia; Paul Simon; Reactions; Religion; South Pacific; Sugar Loaf Hill; Transport; Troops

Subjects: New Caledonia.; United States. Marine Corps; World War, 1939-1945

GPS: New Caledonia
Map Coordinates: -21.25, 165.3
00:53:43 - Combat on Okinawa

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Partial Transcript: Do you remember--'cause you, you were at Okinawa, um, when you got out there into the Pacific...

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins describes several experiences in which he was under fire while on Okinawa. He describes his attempts to help a medic treat wounded soldiers in combat. He talks about some of the casualties of the war which affected him personally.

Keywords: Airfields; Artillery; Camouflage; Companies; Death; Enemy; Ernie Pyle (Journalist); Friends; Hit; Infantry; Japanese; Killed in action; Landing; Medics; Mess duty; Mortars; Navy corpsman; Okinawa (Japan); Ravines; Shooting; Shrapnel; Tactics; Targets; Tombs; Under fire; Water battles; White shirts; Wounded

Subjects: Combat.; Okinawa-shi (Japan); United States. Marine Corps; War casualties.; War wounds.; World War, 1939-1945; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Japan--Okinawa Island; Wounds and injuries.

GPS: Okinawa (Japan)
Map Coordinates: 26.5, 128
01:08:46 - Contact with the Japanese

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Partial Transcript: What, what did you all--you know, you've gone through your training and you're in this war now...

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins tells another story from his friend Paul Simon about his contact with Japanese soldiers. He talks about how Japanese civilians were sometimes accidentally killed at night. He talks about his own experience with captured Japanese prisoners.

Keywords: Captured; Children; Contact; Cornfields; Enemy; Foxholes; Night; Paul Simon; Prisoners of war (POWs); Sugar Loaf Hill; babies

Subjects: Civilians in war.; Combat.; Okinawa-shi (Japan); United States. Marine Corps; War casualties.; War wounds.; World War, 1939-1945; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Japan--Okinawa Island; Wounds and injuries.

GPS: Okinawa (Japan)
Map Coordinates: 26.5, 128
01:16:02 - Ingenuity while on Guadalcanal

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Partial Transcript: Showers. Oh, showers.

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins describes how the soldiers would rig a barrel to make a shower. He talks about being on transport detail and how soldiers would take advantage of "accidentally" broken bottles of whiskey. He talks about fixing a bulldozer and driving it around for fun.

Keywords: 'Ducks'; Alcohol; Barrels; Bases; Bulldozers; Canteens; Drinking; Driving; Duties; Ingenious; Loading; Nets; Nurses; Officers clubs; Ships; Showers; Supplies; Transport detail; Trouble; Whiskey

Subjects: Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands); Military life.; Relaxation.; United States. Marine Corps; World War, 1939-1945

GPS: Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands)
Map Coordinates: -9.616667, 160.183333
01:26:37 - Planning for Operation Coronet / effects of the atomic bombs

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Partial Transcript: Well, let's talk about China.

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about his unit's planned participation in Operation Coronet, part of the proposed plan Operation Downfall which was not executed due to the dropping of the atomic bombs. He talks about how some soldiers reacted to being chosen for this mission by committing suicide, and he discuses religion in the military. He talks about his role in the cleanup after the bombing of Naha, Okinawa.

Keywords: 6th Marines; Airbases; Atomic bombs; Bodies; Bombing; Cleanup; Destruction; Distance; Effects; Fears; Guadalcanal; Invasion forces; Mainland; Naha (Okinawa); Operation Coronet; Operation Downfall; Ramifications; Religious; Repercussions; Rumors; Scuttlebutt; Suicides

Subjects: Atomic bomb.; Okinawa-shi (Japan); Religion; United States. Marine Corps; War casualties.; World War, 1939-1945; World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--Japan--Okinawa Island

GPS: Naha (Okinawa)
Map Coordinates: 26.212222, 127.679167
01:34:07 - Occupation duty in China

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Partial Transcript: --(coughs)--The, um--there was something else about the, something else about the China thing I was trying to come up with.

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about being sent to China for occupation duty after the war ended in Japan. He talks about his role as an MP, destroying weapons they found in civilians' homes. He talks about driving a jeep and his interactions with the local children. He talks about the military housing in Qingdao.

Keywords: 1946; Candy; Children; Communists; Duties; Fights; Gasoline; Guns; Home; Houses; Jeeps; Military occupation; Military police (MP); Nationalists; Paul Simon; Peacekeeping; Shanghai (China); Ships; Tanks; Tsingtao (China); Weapons

Subjects: Civilians in war.; Qingdao (China); United States. Marine Corps; World War, 1939-1945

GPS: Qingdao (China)
Map Coordinates: 36.066667, 120.383333
01:42:56 - Transition back to civilian life

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Partial Transcript: So you're out of the Marines by four--1946?

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about his transition back to civilian life. He tells a story about speaking with his grandfather for the first time after returning home. He talks about where he worked after returning to Kentucky and mentions his family.

Keywords: Adapting; Changes; Chicago (Ill.); Children; Civilian life; Clothing; Different; Family; Farming; Grandfathers; International Business Machines Corporation (IBM); Jobs; Married; Military discharge; Retired; Reunions; Speech; Talking; Wiring; Yankees

Subjects: Employment--Kentucky; Families.; Georgetown (Ky.); Occupations; Scott County (Ky.); World War, 1939-1945--Veterans.

GPS: Scott County (Ky.)
Map Coordinates: 38.3, -84.58
01:49:20 - Lifelong influence of the military

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Partial Transcript: Well, uh, I want to ask you now 'cause we're gonna kind of wrap things up here, um, they'd had, uh, these series of Honor Flights...

Segment Synopsis: Jenkins talks about why he has not participated in the veterans Honor Flights. He talks about how the military has influenced the rest of his life, especially in terms of discipline. The interview is concluded.

Keywords: Advice; Difficulties; Honor Flights; Ideas; Influences; Mentality; Perseverance; Tools; Warm

Subjects: Military discipline.; World War, 1939-1945--Veterans.