Out of the Archives

The Navy V-12 Program

Student life at Stevens changed dramatically in July 1943 when the V-12 Navy College Training Program brought 513 trainees to Castle Point. The program, which placed more than 125,000 enlisted men at 131 colleges and universities for accelerated officer training, had major benefits — at Stevens, trainees could choose the Navy instead of being drafted and earned a Bachelor of Science degree upon completion. V-12s mixed with civilian students in engineering classes, athletics and social activities for eight trimesters before being commissioned as Navy ensigns. By the time the V-12 program ended in 1946, more than 1,000 men received training at Stevens.

1. Navy Building Brick

Demolished in 1981, the building was constructed to house the Navy Steam Engineering School during WWI. In WWII, it served as one of several barracks for V-12s.

2. ‘Commando Training’

An obstacle course stretched almost a mile around the Stevens campus, testing the endurance and agility of trainees, who completed at least six hours of physical training each week.

3. Chow Time

The mess hall went through more than 1,200 pints of milk, 500 lbs. of meat, 600 lbs. of potatoes and 1,000 eggs daily to feed the V-12s.

4. Dress Review

Trainees stood in formation on the athletic field for a monthly inspection by their commanding officers, followed by marching drills observed by Stevens administrators and members of the public.

5. Reality of War

A letter from the Navy to the father of Class of 1944 valedictorian George L. Theiss, Jr., notifying him of his son’s unit commendation for “outstanding heroism in action.” Theiss, Jr. was killed aboard the U.S.S. Emmons on April 6, 1945, near Okinawa, Japan.

6. Liberty

V-12s had limited time to relax out of uniform. They spent their liberty competing in intramural sports, playing in the Navy band and attending dances organized by the Stevens Date Bureau.

Erin Lewis

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