The Daily Tar Heel

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Monday January 24th

Navy, ROTC Have UNC Bond

ROTC presence contains historical significance.

But few people know the dining hall's original purpose -- to serve flight school trainees during World War II.

Besides Lenoir, which was originally built in 1943, some of the military's contributions to campus include Jackson Hall, the Navy Field, the Naval Armory and Kessing Pool.

In 1926, the Navy was the first of the three ROTC divisions established at UNC. Even after the launch of the Air Force and the Army branches, the Navy continued to be the predominant division of the campus ROTC.

During World War II, UNC served as a training ground for men in the pre-flight and V-12 flight programs. More than 3,200 men gathered the skills they needed for the war from these two programs on campus, including baseball great Ted Williams and former President Bush.

The Navy struck a deal with the University during the 1940s and provided the financial backing for several buildings to be constructed.

Capt. Craig Marks, a professor of military science at UNC, said it was a necessary decision for training to go on at UNC.

"Back in World War II, the Navy needed the infrastructure to train and feed the men coming through, so building was the next logical step," he said.

Soldiers in training attended classes such as navigation and boat crafting in Woollen Gym and Jackson Hall and lived in residence halls on North Campus.

The U.S. military continues to supply ROTC with much of what it needs today. While the University does provide it with a small budget, the military covers the bulk of ROTC expenses.

Army Lt. Col. Elizabeth Agather, an ROTC adviser, said the military's monetary contributions extend over a wide range of needs -- from transportation to equipment.

"When I give a piece of equipment to a cadet to use, the military is paying for it,"Agather said.

In addition to financing the physical elements of ROTC, the U.S. military pays for most of the military staff to be at UNC.

About 25 soldiers are assigned each year by the U.S. Department of Defense to work as professors. Marks said he believes having diverse military representation brings a unique dimension to the UNC campus.

"These soldiers come from all over the world from different backgrounds and situations," Marks said. "They are able to bring many new experiences to the University."

The military also gives money to ROTC to provide scholarships and to pay for recruitment advertising.

With roughly $620,000 designated for scholarships, students can receive up to four years of education for free. Students must decide whether to commit to ROTC for the duration of their college years by the beginning of their sophomore year.

In exchange for the monetary assistance for college, cadets who graduate are required to serve with the military for the next four years. Marks said that of the 216 ROTC students, more than 90 percent will go on to serve.

"It's an even exchange," Marks said. "The students get four years of college, and we get four years of the students in the military work force."

UNC also has rewarded some military leaders with permanent housing. A World War II commanding officer lived on Franklin Street until the 1970s. Captain Dennis Haines, a professor of naval science, said he believes this must have been a sign that UNC appreciated the Navy's contribution.

"The Navy presence was quite significant during World War II, and I think UNC realized that," he said.

Recently, ROTC has come in conflict with campus administrators.

According to the Master Plan, officials are planning to remove the Naval Armory to make room for a new science complex. Haines said he will be sad to see the building go.

"There's a certain visibility in our building; everyone knows where it is and what it stands for," he said. "Wherever we will go, the visibility just won't be the same."

Associate Provost Steve Allred said the plan, which has been in the works publicly for three years, will affect many buildings on campus in addition to the Naval Armory. "This is a series of trade-offs between the University and the different departments," he said. "There are buildings that will be saved and those that will have to go."

Allred said that under the plan, ROTC will be relocated to a new building 3,000 square feet larger than the current building.

Despite the disputes, Marks said he believes the interaction between UNC and the military will remain positive.

"We've got a good relationship," he said. "We're happy."

The Features Editor can be reached at features@unc.edu.

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