A Navy homecoming: V-12 memorial welcomes back veterans

Naval officers in 1944.

Northern Arizona University will welcome World War II veterans back to Flagstaff during next week’s Homecoming for the dedication of a memorial commemorating their presence on campus more than 70 years ago.

Dedication of the U.S. Navy V-12 Program Memorial will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, in the North Quad in front of Old Main. Several graduates of the V-12 program are expected to attend. The event is free and open to the public. Information is available online.

The memorial honors the U.S. Navy V-12 college training program, created in 1943 at the height of World War II in response to declining college enrollment. The number of college students plummeted nationwide as young men were sent to war and women stepped in to new roles in the workforce. NAU, then known as Arizona State Teachers College, experienced a severe dip in enrollment to 81 students and was faced with shuttering its doors in the spring of 1943. The campus was selected to host a V-12 program, and by July of that year more than 400 sailors and Marines were on campus.

More than 1,000 soldiers trained at NAU through the program, preparing them for their role as naval officers in the war.