The Norman Transcript

Columns

September 26, 2013

Veteran is now professor emeritus

NORMAN — Bob Goins was born in 1929 in a house on Gray Street where the post office is now. He attended Wilson Elementary School, where his father was the janitor. His mother would pack his lunch and, during lunch break, he would go to the boiler rom and have lunch with his dad.

He considered that a great treat. When he got a little older, he would stay after school and help his dad sweep out and walk home with him.

Goins enrolled in the University of Oklahoma in 1947 in architecture. All male students at the time were required to take at least two years of ROTC. Bob took the next two years of Advanced ROTC because the Army paid him; he was commissioned at the end of the four years. (The architecture degree was a five-year program, so he still didn’t have his degree.)

When the Korean War broke out he was sent to Ft. Belvoir, Va., for basic officer training. He was in the 44th Engineering Combat Group. He was eventually assigned to the 44th Engineering Combat Group located near Pusan, Korea. His unit built docks, airfields, roads and supply depots for the U.S. Eighth Army. He started out as the junior officer in the unit but eventually became the company commander for about nine months.

Goins said that, being engineers, his unit had some amenities other units didn’t have, such as hot showers because they had access to supplies and could build their own facilities.

He learned early on that the army is run by sergeants. At the time, Goins was 22 or 23 years old, his unit had a first sergeant who had been a permanent master sergeant longer than Goins had been alive.

The mess sergeant managed, by trading whiskey with other units, to feed his company better than most. When the supply sergeant got weather siding for his jeep, several higher ranking officers were irritated because they didn’t have such siding.

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