After the War

The young men joined the NROTC program for many different reasons, but surprisingly the main reason was not because of the end of World War Two.  Although fierce patriotism was being exhibited throughout the country another aspect was that there were now several hundred thousand veterans in search of jobs and a college education. This made it nearly impossible for men coming directly out of high-school to achieve scholarships and financial aid in entering a NROTC program.  Getting into the Regular program was very difficult as a result, and many students entered through the Contract program initially and then later transferred to the Regular program in their sophomore or junior years. 

For others, it was often a decision set down by tradition in their families, and in a typical family during the 1950s there was no room to argue.  A military profession was considered a very prestigious career to pick up on, and since the job market wanted veterans it was therefore a good idea to become one.  At the outbreak of the war in Korea there arose yet another reason to join NROTC; to avoid the draft.  Not unlike a decade later, it was relatively easy to become deferred through NROTC, but in this situation it might not have just been the student’s choice, but more so the parents'.

The training of midshipmen during this era was part of the general trend of the post-war Navy; although there was a need for a new officer corps to replace any of the many discharging veterans, there was also a complete downsizing of the fleet that brought about a new wave of civilians into command and control positions.  It was therefore more important to maintain any traditions and ideologies within the officer corps, and to let training evolutions come by the wayside.  For instance, more emphasis was put into creating the perfect gentleman and making sure that he knew all of the proper customs than how to be an efficient division officer.  A demerit system was put heavily into force (used until 1970), using various calculations and statistics to measure one's "worth" in the NROTC program, and punishments were severe. 

A formal "midshipman's code" had not been formalized as of yet, so such trivial actions such as vulgarity or blasphemy would prove just as bad for a midshipman as plagiarism and lying.  For smaller offenses, called "B" offenses, such as being late, or looking unkempt in uniform, or for even forgetting personal belongings for the drill period, the midshipmen were docked accordingly through their rank at the end of each semester.  Class "A" offenses were of a much more serious inclination, and usually one could expect a meeting with the Executive Officer (XO) for disciplinary action.  The Navy had neither the room nor the finances for men who were not gentlemen, and the demerit system was usually the first concept a student would learn.  In fact, former midshipmen would often report to their ships after commissioning and experience a deluge of colorful words and phrases that they had never heard before!

By the end of the 1950s the NROTC program had become standardized on a more national level, and the level of midshipmen in the Battalion increased rapidly.  With rumors of nuclear war and the Cuban Missile Crisis marking the beginning of the Cold War between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, the Navy and Marine Corps were in dire needs to boost up their ranks.  More money was being put into the NROTC budget and with the Vietnam War on the horizon the build-up was in full swing. 

On Villanova's campus, however, things continued the same as ever.  In what would through the next 15 years prove to be a very atypical stance, the faculty and student body fully supported the midshipmen on campus as fellow students, and because of this, the unit flourished.  The nationally acclaimed drill team "Whiskey Company" was ranked within the top three teams every year at the Cherry Blossom Parade down in Washington DC, and new informational programs became popular within the unit such as the Flight Indoctrination Program and the Submarine Indoctrination Program.  But the large numbers during this period were not always for obvious reasons. 

The draft for Vietnam was in full swing for most of the late 1960s, and often young men would choose the Navy Officer life rather than become an enlisted Army or Marine.  There was also a loophole in the scholarship program, often called "two and screw", which stated that a student could continue in the program for a maximum of two years without paying it back before dropping out, and there could sometimes be as much as a 10% drop in returning midshipmen after their sophomore year.  (This line in the scholarship rulings would not be changed until the late 1980s, when it would then become only a one year opportunity.)But because of the school's support, as well as the almost unconditional respect given to the midshipmen from the student body, the Battalion produced on the average two flag officers each class from 1961 to 1972.  True, there were at times moderate peace protests that would stand by Mendel field on drill days with their crosses and signs, but on the whole the Villanova Community did the best they could to help the NROTC battalion.

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