Cofield’s Corner

Published 6:25 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

By John Cofield

I know that posting three wallet-sized shots isn’t eye-catching. But their stories are one and the same and rocked Ole Miss in their times. 

Granddad Cofield took two of the shots and he could not talk about these boys without getting emotional. He kept the photos on his studio wall for 28 years to remind himself and the world of the sacrifices of Ole Miss during World War II. 

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And so it should always be remembered that the 1942 Ole Miss Student Body President Gus Gerard of Grenada, the 1942 Vice President Billy Sam of Vicksburg and the 1943 President Herman Baxter of Bay St. Louis… all died in combat in 1944.

In those old Oxford days when a Square businessman saw a fellow owner coming at him moving quicker than usual, he stiffened his spine for bad war news. The news of Gus’s passing came on a cold day in early February. On a hot June day, the word came – Billy was dead. And by the time Herman went down in mid-October, Oxford had been laid low, and that year’s Christmas was all the less. 

Ole Miss would go on to name a new dormitory for each one of our three Rebel heroes.