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#139 WWII Campus Training Program Produced Junior Officers with a Practical Norwich Education

Jeff Dobbin 200 Things about Norwich, Military Milestones

In a previous post, we shared how the Norwich campus hosted over 1,700 trainees in the Civilian Pilot Training Program (CPTP) during World War II. Always one to rise to the occasion, the university was also one of over 200 schools that participated in the Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) from 1943-1944.

The ASTP curriculum was developed in 1942 in response to a need for junior military officers who also had technical skills—a need that Norwich, with its emphasis on combining practical education with officer training, couldn’t have been better suited to fill. Following basic training, participants were assigned to a college campus and spent 6-9 months taking a highly accelerated curriculum in general academic fields as well as specialized courses in engineering, medicine, or foreign language.

Most of the 227 host schools were land-grant universities—a model of education whose roots can be traced to Alden Partridge’s “American System”—because many of their charters include language about militia training. Norwich was an exception. We were also one of the few colleges that played host to the affiliated Army Specialized Training Reserve Program (ASTRP), which accepted 17-year-olds out of high school and helped them start their education and training before they were eligible for military service.

For approximately two years, ASTP and ASTRP students comingled with CPTP students at Norwich. On the surface, campus life was not so very different from the pre-war period. Students lived in the dorms, ate in the mess hall, studied academic subjects, and participated in clubs and activities. ASTP students even continued to publish issues of the Guidon, linking them with the traditions of Norwich students that came before and after them.

The Army Specialized Training Program was phased out in 1944 as the war reached its crescendo and more manpower was needed at the front. To this day, much like the CPTP trainees, many of its graduates consider themselves to have been Norwich students and look back fondly on that time.

Contact the Norwich University Archives to learn more about ASTP, ASTRP, and wartime life at Norwich.