1950s Army uniform added to the museum collection

Tuesday, April 19, 2011
An Army uniform from the early 1950s was placed on loan to the Manila Depot for display. Pictured are, from left: Mrs. Earl Williams, Earl Williams, Jr., JoAnn Bennett, Donna Jackson and grandson, Issac. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

JoAnn Bennett and Donna Jackson, members of the Depot Museum Committee, were pleased to add the almost 60-year- old Army uniform of Earl Williams, Jr. to the collection of uniforms on display at the Manila Depot Museum.

The Ike jacket style uniform was worn by Williams during his service in the Korean War. It is in perfect condition thanks to the kind care it has received throughout the years. It has been in a cedar trunk since Mr. Williams returned home.

The uniform will be displayed at the depot museum with the World War II uniform donated by J.D. Forsythe and the one worn in World War I by John Pink Adkins (father of J.P. Adkins).

The depot committee members keep very good records of donated items and what is on loan for display in the museum. Records are kept on each item's originality and the family who donated.

Shadow boxes have been built by Jerry Hitchcock to display the uniforms, along with photographs of the owners.

"The shadow boxes made great display cases and help protect the uniforms," Jackson said.

The uniform of Williams is on loan to the depot. Mr. Williams talked to his sons, Gerald and Vernon, about the uniform and they agreed the museum would be a good place to display it.

"My sons said they could come here and see it," Williams said.

Williams served in the Army in 1953-1954 spending nine months in Korea.

"There were a lot of young men from this area who served during this time," Williams said.

He grew up in the Shady Grove area near Manila. He and his wife, Irene, still live in the same community. He said he lives about a mile from where he was raised.

The trousers to the uniform are size 30x32.

"We were all small back then," he said. "There probably wasn't 10 pounds difference in our sizes."

Williams served in the 3rd Armored Division, 45th Infantry, Oklahoma Thunderbirds, and 158 Artillery.

"We did our best to protect the soldiers on the front lines," he said.

He and his wife were married in December 1952 and he went into the military in April 1953.

Mr. and Mrs. Williams visited the museum on Wednesday presenting the uniform for display.

Mr. Williams said being in the depot brought back memories of when he took the Moose, a large passenger car, to Blytheville and back.

"It cost 10 cents to ride the Moose," he said. "It was a good way to get to Blytheville."

"We appreciate the Williams family and the others who have allowed us to display items in the museum," Mrs. Jackson said. "We welcome items related to Manila's history."

Jackson is compiling a book on veterans from Manila and the surrounding area. Forms are available at Delta Drug in Manila or by email to jacksond98@hotmail.com. She will be taking the information until December 31, 2011.

"It is important we preserve the history of our area for future generations," Jackson said. "The book I am working on will be a tribute to the veterans of our area."

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