In 1926, by an enactment of Congress the Naval Reserve Officer's Training Corps program was established and units set up at the University of California, Georgia School of Technology, Harvard University, Northwestern University, University of Washington, and Yale University.
Units were added as a need for them arose, and by the beginning of 1941 there was a total of 19 units. Then with the inauguration of selective service and other programs to insure the security of the country, eight more units were added, among this group was the unit at the University of Colorado.
Unit History: Wartime
V-1:Accredited College Program offered enlistments in the Naval Reserve to college students between the ages of 17 and 19, who then remained on inactive duty until completion of their sophomore year. After one and half years of college work under the V-1 enlistments, students were eligible for transfer to V-5 (flight training) or V-7 (midshipman training) if qualified. Those not qualifying for transfer were ordered to active duty as Apprentice Seamen.
V-5:Naval Aviation Preparatory Program offered enlistment to college sophomores, juniors, and seniors for flight training in the Naval Reserve leading to a commission. Candidates were able to complete their current college year at the time of enlistment before being called to active duty.
V-7:Naval Reserve Midshipmen's School was offered to any college junior or senior. Candidates enlisted in the Naval Reserve and, following a one-month indoctrination course as Apprentice Seamen, attended a three-month course in the Midshipmen's School. Upon completion of the course, candidates were given a commission and put on active status. Instruction was given in navigation, seamanship, ordnance and gunnery, and engineering. In 1941, the admission requirements were changed. Applicants were required to have a college degree, one course in plane trigonometry, and one additional year of mathematics.
V-12:Navy College Training Program. The students in this program were selected from enlisted reserve units in colleges and high schools or entered as freshmen under the V-12 program. The course for freshmen consisted of four terms of sixteen weeks each. The curricula for the first year included mathematics, English, physics, engineering drawing, naval organization, physical training and historical backgrounds of the war. After the first year students were assigned to special curricula to prepare them for duty as engineering, deck, or supply officers. V-12 students served as Apprentice Seamen or Marine Privates on active duty and received pay and allowances accordingly. The NROTC was incorporated into the program and men who had received college training in the NROTC or some other program previous to their enrollment in the V-12 program had their requirements shortened proportionately.
Though the Unit was inaugurated on the campus of the University of Colorado in the summer of 1941, the Navy could trace its lineage on campus to Company "M" of the short-lived ROTC establishment which was founded at the University in early 1918 (pursuant to an Act of Congress of 1916) and was disbanded following the cessation of hostilities in November of that year. Of the six companies which comprised the ROTC establishment at that time, Company "M", 66 men strong, was designated the "Gob" Company and wore the Navy blue. When the darkening war clouds of early 1941 became progressively more threatening, the Navy decided to expand its NROTC program to include many of the principal educational institutions of the country, and in so doing established a 100 student Naval ROTC Unit at Colorado charged with producing reserve officers for the naval service. By this action the Navy was the first of the armed services to be permanently established on the campus of the University of Colorado. Thus, when the 7 December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor came, and with it the advent of war, the NROTC Unit at Colorado was a Unit in being and functioning.
In June of 1942, as the pace of war increased, the Navy Training School (Japanese Language) was transferred from the University of California to the University of Colorado. With the inclusion of other oriental languages, this facet of the Navy's activities expanded throughout the war under the name of the Oriental Language School. The inclusions consisted of several dialects of the Chinese language and also the Malayan language. This was one of the largest and most important Naval enterprises at the University, and it was the only school of its kind maintained by the Navy.
On 22 February of 1942 the Navy established the V-1, V-3, V-5 and V-7 programs on the University campus. These programs were administered for the Navy by Dean C. A. Hutchinson until 1 July 1943 when the V-1, V-3 and V-7 programs were incorporated into the V-12 Reserve Officer Training Program.
Captain Frank H. Roberts, USN (Ret.) was the second Professor of Naval Science and Tactics. Under CAPT. Roberts' command in 1943 the Navy ROTC Unit was enlarged to include the "V-12" Reserve Officer Training Program and its aviation counterpart the "V-5" program. AQdditionally, between 1943 and 1945, "Medical", "Radio" and "Cooks and Bakers" enlisted personnel schoold were established and became administrative responsibilities of the Unit.
Lt. Clifton C. Winn, USNR was the first Officer in Charge of the "V-1211 program and Lt. Theron Tabor, USNR was his Executive Officer. This new Navy College Training Program was assigned to the University of Colorado to carry on war-training courses in Engineering, Pre- medicine and Pre-dentistry. Eligible for the Navy "V" programs were high school graduates, between the ages of seventeen and twenty. Seventeen-year olds were able to enter by enlistment upon passing qualifying tests, while eighteen-year olds subject to draft who met requirements, were selected.
Students accepted for "V-12" or "V-5" were on active duty in uniform under military discipline after being sent to college. They were rated as apprentice seamen, U.S. Naval Reserve and received the same pay, allowances and medical services as all other apprentice seamen on active duty. This included tuition, board and room, books and supplies. These students remained in college for a period of four to twelve terms, which required remaining in school throughout the entire year. At the conclusion of college work the "V" student was givcn specialized Naval training leading to a commission.
Unit History: Peacetime
On September 20, 1946 the Naval ROTC returned to a peacetime basis, with the various wartime programs being discontinued, leaving only the original NROTC Contract Program. At that time the Unit consisted of two-hundred and forty prospective officers.
With the advent of peace, the Navy was still faced with the problem of providing career officers and reserve officers for a greatly expanded "Cold War" Navy. In Washington, consideration was given to an expanded or a second Naval Academy. In 1946 both plans were rejected in favor of a proposal put forth as part of the "Holloway Plan". Under this plan, permanent Naval ROTC Units were established at 52 selected colleges and universities. Through a competitive system of examination throughout the country, the cream of the nation's male high school graduates would be selected to attend these institutions under a government subsidy for their four years of undergraduate study and, upon graduation, would receive commissions in the regular Navy or Marine Corps. This plan provided the naval service with a broad base of new career officers, each with a unique education. At the sane time, it supplemented the output of the Naval Academy. Together the two sources provided an officer corps for the naval service with the diverse abilities and backgrounds so desirable for the nuclear-age Navy. The University of Colorado was one of the 52 educational institutions selected to participate in the new Regular Naval ROTC Program.
In 1947 the Unit also was charged with administering a Student Nurse Program as well as the "Five-term Program". The latter program was developed for those officers who were commissioned under the many nationwide wartime-accelerated college programs and who were now being ordered back to college to complete study for their degrees.
The University was expanding and the Unit kept pace. By 1956 the Folsom Stadium was built, and this Unit moved from its rather cramped original spaces in the basement of Ketchum Building to its current spaces which include the Battalion Office (the armory and quarterdeck).
In rapid succession, the Navy Department added other key advanced education programs to the administrative responsibilities of the Unit. The"Enlisted Waves Nursing Program" was established in 1956. In August, 1958, the education-conscious Navy added the "Naval Enlisted Scientific Education Program" (NESEP) to the Boulder campus. This program was in direct response to "Space-Age" challenge initiated by the Soviet launching of Sputnik in November 1957. To exploit the intellectual potential within the enlisted ranks of the Navy and Marine Corps a program was established whereby selected enlisted men with high potential for scientific and engineering work were chosen to attend specified universities with a dual goal of receiving a degree and a commission. The University of Colorado was one of the institutions chosen. The progam in its initial form at C.U. was called "NESEP B" and allowed the students a wide choice of major fields in engineering, mathematics and the sciences. In 1961 the "NESEP A" program was introduced to Boulder with the exclusive purpose of producing electrical engineers. With the introduction of the "A" program, its predecessor was phased out in 1964 after having graduated 14 NESEP officers. In 1961 still another program was established at Colorado. This program, the Civil Engineering Program, provides selected officers a course of instruction leading to a baccalaureate degree or a master of science degree in Civil Engineering.
A significant milestone in the history of the Navy at the University of Colorado occurred in June of 1959. At that time the Unit and the University were pleased to welcome a native son of Boulder, Colorado, Admiral Arleigh Burke, the Chief of Naval Operations. Admiral Burke was awarded the degree of Doctor of Science by the University, and, while on campus, commissioned 31 new officers in the Navy, Marine Corps, and Nurse Corps.
Unit History: Activities
The story of the Navy at the University of Colorado would not be complete, however, were it to end here; for there were and are people involved in this story. People who have been more than names in a skeletal history; people who have been the blood of the various programs; put life into them, given them zest and vigor and meaning. In early 1942, when the country was still recovering from the shock of Pearl Harbor, the midshipman battalion, after two days of accelerated drilling, marched from the campus into downtown Boulder and back again, ostensibly, to demonstrate their drill prowess; but more important, to show tangibly that America was on the move; that the giant was awakening and starting to develop it's muscles. Shortly after that first display, on March 22, the battalion marched in parade in downtown Denver. Since those early days, the battalion has formed from within itself a Drill Team, highly skilled and polished through long hours of practice. Over the years the Drill Team performed at many University of Colorado events, including the 1957 Orange Bowl festivities. Five years running, from 1956 to 1960, the NROTC Drill Team won the Regents Trophy in annual ROTC Drill competition. In addition, the team has won the Rocky Mountain Drill Competition in 1958, 1959, 1960, and 1962. In 1958, it took first place honors at the fourth annual Intermountain Drill Meet at Utah State University. In 1961 and 1962 the team won first place honors and the overall trophy at the Colorado State University Annual Drill Meet and was second in 1963.
People have added zest and life to the Navy story at Colorado in other ways, too. From the very beginning, in 1941-42, "Navy" men and women loosed pent up energy and spirit in athletics and sportsmanship. NROTC Unit teams had won championships in water polo, touch football, softball and volleyball; and Unit rifle and pistol teams had been consistently at or near the top of the ladder in local, regional and national competition since its inception in 1949. In 1951 Midshipman R. G. Williams was tied for individual high score in the William Randolph Hearst National NROTC Rifle Competition. Competing against teams from the other 51 NROTC universities in 1952, the Colorado Unit pistol team took first place and the Secretary of the Navy's Trophy. And in 1955 Midshipman Jack McGahey won undisputed possession of the Individual Championship in the William Randolph Hearst NROTC Rifle Competition.
It takes more than rifle competitions, athletics and marching midshipmen, however, to make a strong, proud organization; a cohesive spirited unit: there must also be social life, communication, and community involvement. The first midshipman formal dance was held in the spring 1942, and there has been at least one in each year since then, though the format has changed several times.