William T Johnson, 1943
I consider that I began preparing for combat on or about September 1, 1941 at age 17 when I began the study of Military Science and Tactics in the Reserve Officer Training Corps at Presbyterian College.
September 1, 1941. After entering Presbyterian College in September 1941 and after our entry into the Second World War on December 7, 1941, it did not seem likely that I would be able to complete my training in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) and be commissioned a Lieutenant of Infantry if and when I graduated in May 1945.
October 1, 1942. We were instructed on the several options open to us, including enlisting in the Army Reserve as a possible way to defer induction by Selective Service, so I chose that method and walked over to Clinton High School on or about October 18, 1942, and was sworn into the Reserve of the Army of the United States. At that time I was assigned an Army Serial Number, 14 183 363, the first "1" indicating that I had volunteered for service and the "4" indicating that I lived in the Fourth Corps Area. I kept that ASN for the remainder of my enlisted service.
June 15, 1943. I continued in that status until June 15, 1943, when I entered active military service at Fort McPherson, GA, followed by basic infantry training at Camp Croft, SC, and Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) at Mississippi State College, MS, while awaiting entry into Officer Candidate School (OCS) at Fort Benning, GA.
March 1, 1944. That started on or about March 1, 1944, and ended on or about May 31, 1944, when the Army decided that I probably would not make a good officer after all, and I was assigned to Company M, 14th Infantry, 71st Division, in the Sand Hill area of Fort Benning.
June 1, 1944. The division had been activated July 15, 1943, had been in training in California, Colorado, and Panama as a light division provided with mules for transportation, and then was being reorganized as a standard Infantry division with three regiments and trucks for transportation. The next several months were very pleasant for me as I trained in a Heavy Weapons Company with machine guns and mortars. I was one of more than a hundred Privates First Class and considered that I was in a good unit, with people that I liked and respected.