The Norman Transcript

September 26, 2013

Veteran is now professor emeritus

By David Hopper
The Norman Transcript

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.

Goins served in Korea for four or five months after the truce was signed. He remembers a M.A.S.H. unit nearby that hosted dances on Saturday nights; they had nurses.

Bob sent most of his money home so that, when he returned, he was able to buy his first car: a two-tone 1954 Oldsmobile, hard-top convertible. He was very proud of that car.

Bob arranged to get home from Korea in time to enroll in the second semester at OU; he eventually got his master’s in regional and city planning. He worked for a year for an architectural firm in Wichita, Kan.

When OU offered him a job at the Institute of Community Development, which was part of the Department of Regional and City Planning, he came home. He is now a professor emeritus of the College of Architecture and serves as senior fellow with the Institute of Quality Communities in that college.

This year, the Norman Veterans Committee is sponsoring the Veterans Day Parade at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9. The parade will proceed down Jenkins Street to the Cleveland County Veterans Memorial at Reaves Park, where a ceremony will begin at 11:30 a.m. Ret. Lt. Gen. Harry M. “Bud” Wyatt, a former adjutant general for Oklahoma and director of the Air National Guard in the Pentagon, will be the keynote speaker.

The theme for the parade this year is “Red, White and Blue — Veterans on the March.” Organizers would like to see honor guards, marching bands, floats, motorcycle groups and car clubs all with the same underlying desire: to honor our veterans.

Groups or organizations wishing to participate in the parade may download an application from normanfun.com. The deadline for entries is Oct. 31. For more information, please contact the Parks and Recreation Department at 366-5472.