Remembering War Veterans
By Mike Greife
The dedication of the University of Central Missouri's Navy V-12 Memorial in October 1997 brought alumni and veterans of the World War II officer training program back to campus to renew friendships.
World War II brought the nation together in a unified effort. UCM, then known as Central Missouri State Teachers College, joined that effort along with college and university campuses across the nation with the introduction of the Navy V-12 College Training program.
As World War II progressed, the U.S. military found itself in need of commissioned officers with college degrees to take leadership roles. The Navy V-12 program offered students enrolled in reserve officer training programs, enlisted men recommended by commanding officers or high school graduates who could pass entrance exams the opportunity to gain an officer's commission while earning a college degree.
Navy V-12 programs were approved for 131 campuses across the country. More than 60,000 men were commissioned as Navy ensigns or Marine Corps second lieutenants. The V-12 class at UCM welcomed 372 men from 26 states who studied year-round in four, three-month terms between January 1942 and October 1945.
V-12 students were on active duty and subject to the same rules of conduct and disciplinary procedures as any soldier or sailor on a military base. They quickly became a part of the campus and Warrensburg communities. The V-12 Navy Ball was considered the campus social event of the year, with V-12 participants wearing full-dress uniform.
The V-12 unit was housed in Yeater Hall, then a new residence hall on campus. The men observed all rules of military conduct and a military schedule of activities throughout the day in addition to classes.
Lt. Irvin L. Peters was named to lead the CMSTC V-12 unit. When the unit was deactivated, Peters accepted the position of dean of administration and instruction, spending the remainder of his career at UCM in administrative roles.
In addition to a Navy V-12 reunion planned this fall from Sept. 16-17, the Office of Alumni Relations is hoping to eventually have a reunion for all alumni veterans. To do so, they need to build a database of UCM alumni veterans. They are especially hoping to learn about UCM alumni vets who died serving their country. If you are both an alumnus and a veteran or know of one, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 660-543-8000.