Roger C. Wilkinson
Aviation Radioman Third Class
U. S. Navy
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 04/10/1944 - 07/12/1946
TBF/TBM Gunner

He was born in Shreveport at North Louisiana Sanitarium as one of four children to John Q. Wilkinson and Anna Corrine Cade Wilkinson. His father, a World War I veteran and a farmer in Summer Grove, cultivated 480 acres in cotton. He also grew vegetables for the family table. "We didn't go hungry at all because we raised everything we ate," Roger says of his boyhood during the Depression. "I remember I didn't really feel that I was poor because everybody you knew and went to school with were poor also. We all were just poor people and we were happy and just made do with what you had." Roger helped his father on the farm, hoeing and picking cotton, among other chores. He lived on the farm until he was "probably thirteen years old" before moving into Shreveport to live with grandparents, attend school and work. During high school (and later in college) Roger worked for his uncle's law office in downtown Shreveport as an errand boy and mail clerk. In summer he worked 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and half a day on Saturday. He was paid four dollars for 44 hours. He also worked for Leon Johnson's Grocery Store, earning $14 a week, as well as in the post office sorting mail. Roger graduated from Byrd High School in 1943, and joined the U.S. Navy at 17 with his father's written permission. "I liked the military and I liked military discipline," he says. After boot camp in San Diego he was sent to naval air technical training center at Wilmington near Memphis, where he attended radio and radar schools. After gunnery school in Purcell, Oklahoma, he was sent to five bases in Florida for operational training in TBMs. "We trained as an air crew," he says. Roger, an aviation radioman 3rd class and a radio gunner in his air crew, was in Florida when the war ended. He was sent to Algiers near New Orleans, where he worked in Shore Patrol, then to Houma to a blimp base where he served as tower operator. He was discharged in New Orleans on July 12, 1946. He went to work with his older brother, a land surveyor on the survey crew. On June 1, 1948 he married Molly Walston. (They would have three children, six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.) He became a registered land surveyor in 1957, eventually starting his own land surveying business, Roger C. Wilkinson & Associates, in the 1970s. Meanwhile, he served in U.S. Navy Reserve for fourteen years. He later joined Army National Guard with the 527th Engineer Battalion. Roger retired from his surveying career when he was 80.