Published: March 17, 2022
By: Josh Archote, LSU Manship School News Service
This is the second in a three-part series.
When Leland Boyd woke up in the middle of the night as a child, he’d sometimes find his father Earcel in the bathroom, scrubbing his hands over and over.
“The next day you’d see him, his hands would be just red,” Leland said. “He would take a bar of soap and just scrub his arms for hours under hot water. He would be in the bathroom at least three times a month early in the morning for hours.”
Earcel’s sons believed this compulsion was a result of nightmarish experiences during World War II, when Earcel participated in landing assaults on the Japanese in Guam.
During one raid, another son Sonny said, Earcel spotted a Japanese guard whose position put U.S. troop movements at risk. That night, Earcel silently crawled up a ditch, grabbed the guard from the back and slit his throat with a knife. He then had to lie in the ditch overnight with the guard’s blood encrusting his hands and arms.
“He never felt that he could get his hands washed clean,” Sonny said.
That happened when Earcel was 21, and later in the war, he shot an American soldier who attempted to reboard a landing craft after debarking on an assault. Earcel was trained to allow no one to reboard unless wounded or dead and shot the soldier, who recovered, Sonny said.
The Boyd brothers believe that their father’s rage and irrationality — which caused great emotional and physical distress for their family — was partly related to his experiences in World War II, especially the killing of the guard.
His propensity for violence also was apparent in his decision to join the Ku Klux Klan in 1962 when he was living in Concordia Parish, just across the Mississippi River from Natchez. And in the mid-1960s, he was one of the 20 or so members of the Silver Dollar Group, a violent Klan offshoot thought to be involved in several murders.
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