Oscar C. LaBorde, Jr.
Pharmacist Mate 3rd Class
U. S. Navy
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 05/11/1943 - 11/10/1944
Hospital corpsman, Pharmacist Mate, USS William P. Biddle

Oscar was born in Bunkie, Louisiana, a place he describes as "just a one-horse country town. We didn't have streetcars. We had street cows. They'd roam everywhere." His father was a school bus driver until he moved the family to Hessmer, Louisiana, when Oscar was ten. There, the young Oscar grew up on a 42-acre farm and attended school through the 9th grade before moving to New Orleans and working at Charity Hospital as a gas therapy technician. Joining the U.S. Navy, he entered boot camp in May of 1943 in San Diego and trained as a corpsman. Oscar was assigned to duty aboard the William P. Biddle, which he described as a "banana boat they had converted into a troop transport." Each time its guns were fired, he recalls, the concussion would "knock everything off of the pharmacy" shelves. He participated in five invasions in seven months, including actions in the Marshall Islands and in New Britain, where a torpedo hit the aft of his ship. It proved to be a dud but the crew took no chances. "We sealed off that compartment and just left it. It was right under sick bay where I worked," he recalls. He remembers 13 corpsmen going into battle with Marines. "We'd draw straws," he recalls of the selection of corpsmen to accompany troops. "I never did draw a straw to go ashore." Oscar stayed aboard and gave injections, sewed wounds, and assisted in the operating room. He recalls the campaign for Guam as a particularly rough battle. "I was up around forty to fifty hours straight," he recalls. "No sleep, no rest, and all we had to eat were cornbread and beans and hot black coffee." After Guam the ship returned to Pearl Harbor on August 7, 1944. He reports that he "went berserk. They knocked me out--me and a bunch of others. Just tired, just completely give out," he says of the strain of constant combat. Suffering from the stress of the battle, he was sent to a convalescent tent hospital in Balboa Park in San Diego. Oscar was discharged on November 10, 1944. Back in Hessmer he went to work as warehouse manager in the ordnance department at Camp Livingston. The army sent him to Madison, Wisconsin, to a school to learn how to package and ship ordnance. Oscar eventually had 72 employees working for him. He married Mary Christine Coburn on July 6, 1945. They would have five sons and six grandchildren. When the war ended Oscar worked for the Ford agency in Alexandria before moving to Shreveport to seek new employment. "All we had was a car full of clothes," he recalled of the family's possessions. Hired at Guaranty Bank, he used the GI Bill to complete higher education in bookkeeping and business administration, completing the 18-month courses in 9. He remained at the bank for six months, then worked for Tiller Tractor Company as a bookkeeper.