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ROTC and World War II

“Four times in its history, Wofford College has been called to war,” began President Henry Nelson Snyder’s message to Wofford alumni in December 1941.  World War II would both prove ROTC’s value to the campus and the nation, and profoundly change the college.  By the eve of World War II, around 780 Wofford graduates had received commissions through Wofford’s ROTC unit.  Nationally, ROTC provided some 100,000 officers to the army, far outnumbering the 14,000 Regular Army officers then serving.  About 600 Wofford alumni were serving as active duty officers by 1943, and nearly all had received their training at Wofford.  While the Army did not completely abolish ROTC during World War II, they did considerably scale it back, no doubt relying on officer candidate schools to supply their urgent demands.  The basic ROTC course continued, and many of the students who remained in college took it. 

Alumni Bulletin, December 1941

            During much of 1943 and 1944, the Army took over the campus, using the facilities as a college training detachment for training aviation students.  The program, run largely by the air corps, was designed to give non-college graduates a portion of a college education before sending them to officer candidate school and flight school.  During those 15 months, Wofford first and second year students took their courses at Spartanburg Junior College, and juniors and seniors took courses at Converse. 

Seniors, 1943

By Phillip Stone

I've been the archivist of Wofford College and the South Carolina United Methodist since 1999. I'll be sharing college, Methodist, and local history, documents, photographs, and other interesting stories on this blog, which I've been keeping since December 2007.