Tufts Answers the Call to Service: V-12 and NROTC at Tufts

U.S. Navy Comes to Tufts, 1941-1945

Tufts and the U.S. Navy had a close and productive relationship from 1941 to 1972. This relationship began when President Leonard Carmichael fought for the establishment of a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) program at Tufts.

NROTC students were placed in class V-1, USNR on inactive duty and took one course each semester in Naval Science and Tactics as the NROTC "department" was called. The NROTC was a vital program to Tufts prior to the war. With the start of World War II, life on the Tufts campus changed dramatically. Large numbers of male students left for military service, while some finished their remaining semesters before being commissioned for active duty.

Tufts' campus was largely transformed into a Naval Training Center, altering its dormitories, dining, and athletic facilities to accommodate the new students.

In the spring of 1943, the Navy Department announced a new nationwide officer training program. Tufts College was once again among the institutions selected. The School for War Service was established and facilitated the Navy College Training Program. The Tufts USNR class V-1, including the NROTC, were to be put on active duty and incorporated into the V-12 program on July 1, 1943.

V-12 students sent to Tufts from other universities and enlisted sailors from the Atlantic and Pacific fleets were also placed on active duty in the United States Navy on the Tufts campus. NROTC students were commissioned as ensigns in the USNR or 2nd Lieutenants in the USMCR (Marines), while V-12 students were commissioned after Midshipman's School or Flight Training. They were sent to active duty throughout the world after being commissioned.

President Carmichael solicited many Navy and Washington, D.C. officials in the hopes of bringing a ROTC unit to Tufts. Finally, on May 20, 1941, Carmichael was officially notified by both David I. Walsh, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, and Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy, that Tufts was one of eight schools awarded a Naval ROTC unit.

President Carmichael has been quoted as referring to the NROTC programs as a "lifesaver for Tufts," mostly because the Naval ROTC unit helped supplement enrollment when the high demand for men to serve in the military during World War II depleted the student population.

Captain Keppler was issued change of duty orders in 1941, relieving him from duty as Professor of Naval Science and Tactics at Brown University in order to report to Tufts to organize and become Professor of Navy Science and the first commander of the Tufts NROTC unit.

In the following year, Captain Haines was appointed commanding officer of the Tufts Naval Training Unit and served until 1945. During Haines' time at Tufts, Carmichael again petitioned the U.S. Navy for Tufts to be considered for a Navy College Training Program known as the V-12. The NROTC program of 1941 was running smoothly, making the college a prime candidate for continued military expansion.

In 1943 Tufts was accepted as a host school for the V-12 program which accommodated 1,000 trainees in its first year.

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In addition to classes, students enrolled in the military program were responsible to attend weekly drills where the uniforms of NROTC midshipmen were worn. They practiced practical naval activities, such as signaling, gunnery, and shiphandling, as well as military and athletic drills, in order to train them for war.The standards were high, both mental and physical, paralleling those required for entrance to the United States Naval Academy.

Students were responsible for caring for the equipment used during drills, as well as formal ceremonies. The following are examples of formal, midshipmen's, and regular uniforms.

The Midshipman's cap was worn as part of the NROTC uniform during weekly drills to prepare trainees for naval service.

Those buglers in the Tufts Navy Drum and Bugle Corps wore this uniform patch.

The Officer's cap was worn when the class of 1945 NROTC was commissioned at Tufts in March 1944.

These epaulettes were worn on the uniform of newly commissioned ensigns as they completed the NROTC training at Tufts.

This Naval sword was used during military ceremonies at Tufts College.

Military Effects Peter F. Merenda was commissioned into the U.S. Naval Reserve when the first NROTC (Class of 1945) had completed six semesters. He returned after WWII to receive a Bachelor of Arts degree. While at Tufts he was issued an identification card, participated in off-campus submarine training, and received an NROTC graduation ring for recognition of his participation in the military program. He remained in the Naval Reserve before retiring as a Captain.

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Numerous publications were produced by Tufts College, students, and the U. S. Navy for instructional and informative use.

These three booklets are instructional and informative publications and were to be read by NROTC/V-12 trainees. They outline the history, mission and organization of the program, as well as the conduct and responsibilities expected of naval students at Tufts College.

The "Tufts Tracer" was a publication written, edited, and published by NROTC/ V-12 students, offering a forum for publishing original articles, poetry, cartoons, and biographical text about important U.S. Navy figures and events at Tufts and beyond. It was first published in September 1941 and continued sporadically until June 1943, when it was formally organized and published bimonthly.