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How Nebraska Shaped Us
During the first week of October in 1943, we arrived at Love Library after leaving Fort Riley, Kan., in a horse trailer. Several thousand college students who had enlisted in the Army Reserve Corps some months before, had just completed 13 weeks of basic army training at Fort Riley and Fort Hood.
I had enlisted December 7, 1942 at Georgia Tech, where I was a sophomore chemical engineering student. At basic training we were given batteries of tests, and some of those who scored high were selected to attend the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) at the University of Nebraska. With several levels in several study areas, I was fortunate to be in the group of 60 for Advanced Mechanical Engineering. At the end of six months, our group was cut to 30-we remained, but the other ASTP groups became infantry replacements.
Many of our best friends, good students all, went elsewhere; some died in Europe. Although we came from engineering schools from across the country-from Georgia Tech, Washington State, Notre Dame, MIT, Cornell, LSU, Tulane, Oregon State, Yale, Texas A&M, Clemson, Illinois, Oklahoma and others-we became close friends. We lived in Love Library, studied, played and dated coeds for a full year. Many of us are still in touch today.
We have many memories of our time in Bancroft Hall, with dedicated professors who taught and encouraged us, and became our friends. We remember Dr. DeBaufie, Jim Blackman, T.T. Aachus, P.K. Slaymaker, Marmo, Ludwigson, Sgt. Ducharme, and our PT instructor and local wrestler, Jerry Adams. We saw much more of them than just during classroom and lab time in Bancroft. They would come to our study halls at night and even party with us on occasion.
Jim Blackman was my best man when I returned from Europe to marry my Chi Omega sweetheart, Rose Philips, in July 1945. She and I have been married for more than 62 years here in the Atlanta area. At least five of our group of 30 married NU girls.
Of the 30 great guys, 18 had sufficient transfer hours from previous colleges to receive their B.S. in Mechanical Engineering degree from NU, in absentia, in May 1945. This was 18 of 29 BSME degrees and 50 total engineering degrees conferred in 1945. Six other group members accepted the engineering department's invitation to return to NU after their discharge to finish their degree and master's work.
We don't hear much of these 30 in NU publications but, in my opinion, they were 30 of the greatest guys I have ever known. They were also very successful in their chosen fields: engineering, business, artists, doctors and more. I know 11 have died, and 19 I haven't located, but the other seven still keep in touch.
Lewis Brannon, Jr.