The Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, located in Nashville, TN, is named for the son of the founder, Dr. Wesley Wilkerson. Bill Wilkerson was killed in the Battle of the Bulge on 12 January 1945, at the age of 19.
After V-E Day, we settled into barracks life, except we were in pup tents. Close order drill, parades, physical training, inspections and softball took up our time. Living in the field, the only latrines available were slit trenches, dug by assigned details or work parties.
The 87th Division was pulled out of the Saar Basin on December 23. It was a cold, barren place with copses of woods concealing enemy machine gun emplacements and tanks, deadly for foot soldiers. We were positioned on the right flank of the Third Army. We were glad to go. It was rumored the Germans had broken through the American lines somewhere to the north.
With full pack and rifle, we carefully went over the side of our cross-channel ship and worked our way down the cargo net to a landing craft (LCI) heaving alongside the hull in the long harbor swells of Le Havre. We were instructed to leap in the boat as it fell in the trough. With rifle and full pack added to our body weight, if we landed in the boat as it rose in the swell, you could break a leg.