William Aycock describes how his participation in the optional third and fourth years of ROTC at NC State, along with some unusual luck, led to him almost immediately finding himself in command of a company after being called into the U.S. Army in the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Interview on August 23, 2011. (2:42)


Text Timestamp
At State everybody took 00:00:00.000 - 00:00:04.525
ROTC mandatory the first two years 00:00:04.525 - 00:00:09.524
and then you had no further obligation. 00:00:09.524 - 00:00:13.384
But those who finished two years, who wanted it, could take the third and fourth year. 00:00:13.384 - 00:00:20.258
You couldn't do it just because you wanted to; 00:00:20.258 - 00:00:26.264
you had to want to do it and then you had to be selected. 00:00:26.264 - 00:00:31.656
It was no doubt that they were likely to pick the president of the student body 00:00:31.656 - 00:00:40.997
as one of the ones to do the third and fourth year of ROTC. 00:00:40.997 - 00:00:47.563
Of course you know a lot of people. 00:00:47.563 - 00:00:53.791
So that happened and as soon as I graduated I became entitled to 00:00:53.791 - 00:01:04.864
a reserve officer as a lieutenant in the infantry. 00:01:04.864 - 00:01:08.842
So that set me up when they bombed Pearl Harbor 00:01:08.842 - 00:01:16.070
that I was immediately called and in a week or two I was at Fort McClellan, Alabama. 00:01:16.070 - 00:01:24.634
So it was a period of four years until my division that I served in [went] overseas, 00:01:24.634 - 00:01:40.942
in the last year of the war. 00:01:40.942 - 00:01:44.145
I trained troops at Fort McClellan, Alabama for three years 00:01:44.145 - 00:01:49.357
and there they recognized my interest. So I went in as a lieutenant 00:01:49.357 - 00:01:57.990
and was to be second in command. 00:01:57.990 - 00:02:03.001
The number two in the battalion, which at that time was four companies, 00:02:03.001 - 00:02:11.011
got in an automobile wreck 00:02:11.011 - 00:02:15.087
and the fellow that was supposed to be my captain 00:02:15.087 - 00:02:21.673
was told to take his place, 00:02:21.673 - 00:02:24.519
so before I ever saw any troops-they had to come there- 00:02:24.519 - 00:02:27.721
I was a commander of a company! [Laughs] 00:02:27.721 - 00:02:33.524

Request transcript of full interview

More Video