Dakota Datebook

Navy V-12 Training Program

Friday, June 15, 2012


On this date in 1943, the president of Minot State Teachers College, C.C. Swain, announced that the college would sign contracts with the U.S. Navy to start a V-12 officer training program, which would not only help the military by producing college-educated officers for World War II, it would also help Minot State College cope with declining enrollment because so many young men were going off to war.

The college housed the V-12 trainees in two dormitories, Pioneer Hall and Dakota Hall. Pioneer Hall held 250 men and Dakota Hall about 150. The men were on campus for one semester before transferring for further training on other campuses.

The V-12 trainees received college instruction in mathematics, physics, English, mechanical drawing, and history. They also participated in physical training, notably by means of an obstacle course. The young Navy men also engaged in extra-curricular activities, like playing in the swing band or participating in intercollegiate sports.

During the semester, Saturday evening dances at the Student Union enlivened the social lives of coeds and Navy trainees alike with “Jukebox Saturday Night” swing music and “boogie-woogie”syncopation. But the highlight of the social scene came at the end of each semester, when the Navy held a farewell formal honoring the men leaving for assignments elsewhere.

Between June 1st, 1943, and June 30th, 1946, more than 125,000 men enrolled in the V-12 program, nationally, at 131 colleges and universities. At the Minot State campus, in the twenty-eight months from June of 1943 to the close of the program on November 1, 1945, nearly eight hundred young men were a part of the V-12 Officer Training Course. The peak number in one semester came during the March through June session of 1944, when there were 355 men assigned to the Minot campus. The men came from “twenty-three states of the Union, the largest numbers coming from Minnesota, Washington, and North Dakota.

At a reunion of the V-12 trainees, held in Minot in 1994, Navy man Robert R. Johnson said his favorite memory of his V-12 time was the Thanksgiving celebrations the townspeople put together, and playing on Minot State’s undefeated football team in 1945.

Other campuses in North Dakota also hosted V-12 college training programs – Dickinson State Teachers College; the U.N.D. School of Medicine; Valley City State Teachers College; and the North Dakota State School of Science in Wahpeton.

Dakota Datebook written by Dr. Steve Hoffbeck, History Department, MSU Moorhead.

SOURCES: “V-12 Contract Officers Are Coming Friday,” Minot Daily News, June 15, 1943, p. 1.

“Most Of Ship’s Company Gone ON Day Of Official End Of V-12 Here,” Minot Daily News, November 1, 1945, p. 12.

“V-12 Closes Its Books on Minot College Campus,” Red And Green [Minot State Teachers College], October12, 1945, p. 1.

“College Gets V-12 Program,” Red And Green [Minot State Teachers College], May 12, 1943, p. 1.

“Swingsters, Boxers, Coed To Jibe & Jive At V-12 Smoker,” Red And Green [Minot State Teachers College], June 21, 1944, p. 1.

Banquet Program, Minot State University, Navy V-5 & V-12 College Training Program and 1943-1945 Class Reunion, June 25, 1994.

http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ref/USN-Act/ND.html, accessed on August 28, 2008; DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY, WASHINGTON, D.C., 1945, the original is an unpublished, typewritten manuscript provided bythe U.S. Naval Historical Center.

Tom Campbell, “V-12 Program Bolstered Boiler Football,”Purdue University Connections Now, http://www3.ag.purdue.edu/Connections/NOW/Pages/V-12.aspx, accessed on May 19, 2012.






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Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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