NROTC at Tech

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The Seal outside of the O'Keefe building, the current home to all of the ROTC programs

The Georgia Tech Naval ROTC program was one of the first six such programs established [1] and since then has had a long standing tradition of excellence both in academic and military matters [2] .


Establishing a Tradition

The Georgia Tech NROTC unit was authorized in 1926 by the Department of the Navy. It was begun as one of the first six Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps units in the country, the others being at the University of California at Berkeley, Northwestern University, the University of Washington, Harvard University and Yale University. Commander London was made the Commanding Officer of the unit and he began interviewing freshmen to join the unit. Of the 175 applicants he chose 60 all of which had to be US citizens and 14 years of age. The age restriction was such that at the end of their training of four years they would be of age to join the Navy. The goal of the program is to build the incoming boys into men fit to represent our Navy and our country, so all applicants needed to also be mentally and physically qualified for military duty. [1]

The Cannon outside of the O'Keefe building

The initial courses that were taken by the midshipmen were navigation, gunnery and seamanship which are not much different than those of more modern times, however they also had drill aboard 24-foot whaleboats in Piedmont Park and they practiced the operation of a 4-inch naval gun. In 1935 the Naval Armory was completed. The building included a simulated bridge with a functional communications system and a real working ship's boiler as well as other simulated parts of a ship. These amazing facilities allowed the 200 or so midshipmen to practice what they were learning in the classroom and to allow them to better acquaint themselves with naval vessels and protocol. When the midshipmen from all six units got together to train on their summer cruises the midshipmen of Georgia Tech consistently showed greater ability and experience in their work. [1]

In 1936 Rear Admiral Reeves visited the unit to inspect the midshipmen and after his inspection he gave congratulations to the battalion on its appearance and drill. He said that he had always wanted to see the Tech unit as he had heard so much about it, and that after the inspection, he could honestly affirm any praise previously given. [2]

World War II

In 1939, due to the looming threat of war a limited emergency was proclaimed. For Georgia Tech NROTC this meant that a Naval Reserve Indoctrination School was started during the summer months. The purpose of these was to teach naval subjects to newly commissioned ensigns from other colleges. In November of 1941 a naval expansion program was begun and the navy needed more officers and thus a higher attrition rate from ROTC programs. So the Georgia tech unit began a much more intensive training regimen as to prepare the midshipmen much more fully. While this program was underway midshipmen were eligible for commissioning as Ensigns after one year of active duty. [3] Before the program it had required two years of active duty to be commissioned.

The old NROTC armory

On July 1, 1943 the V-12 program began at Tech. The V-12 program was a national program by the navy in which enlisted personnel were given the opportunity to gain a degree and a commission. This program brought the unit to a size of 1040 trainees. This massive influx of military personnel gave the school the feeling of a naval establishment. [4] Those members of the V-12 program who came from the fleet were first given classes on basic math and sciences so that they would be ready for the rigorous curriculum at tech.[5] According to Lieutenant Lloyd Moll "The Navy did not set up this program to "give young men a chance," no matter how highly these men may value their training, nor to save even one college. It aimed, with a singleness of purpose, to utilize the expert faculties, and campus facilities of the colleges, and to husband and develop the country's more promising young intellects." [6] The Navy was definitely finding and developin the intellects as can be seen by those in the program's positions at tech. The president and vice president of the senior class in 1945 were both in the V-12 program [7] The Lieutenant went on to say, "The Navy needs minds that are accurate and well-informed. Her officers must be prepared in the most exacting detail of their most specific duty. But in many respects, this is the easiest part of their training, perhaps because it is so easily measurable. Beyond this, they must have a mature emotional stability, and a general mental alertness, which will prepare them for the unexpected and the uncatalogued. They must have a lively imagination for the work they are in. The man who has no imagination for his duty will never progress very far within it." [6]


The Bell outside of the O'Keefe building

After the end of the war the enrollment in the NROTC program shrunk back to its original size of about 200 midshipmen at any given time. In the 1950's the program had changed significantly from the initial setup. Midshipmen would take the normal courses of Naval Science and would chose their specialization in their last two years, the choices being Naval line officers, Supply Corps officers, or US Marine Corps officers. The midshipmen continued to participate in drills such as beach landings and other military activities that could be done in the fleet. [8] In 1980 the old NROTC armory was taken down for the Edge Athletic Center and the unit was moved to freshmen hill just above Peter's parking deck. This building was home to the GT NROTC unit until 2007 when the unit moved to the O'Keefe building where it is housed today.

The unit houses many interesting artifacts that should be of note. Outside of the unit is a metal bell from the USS Georgia, the hull of which was used to cast two large gates that are housed inside the midshipman wardroom. Also from the Georgia is the eagle figurehead from her bow. There is a four inch gun that is also outside of the unit, this same gun was the one used for training by midshipmen long ago. In the unit hallway there is a giant wheel from the USS St. Louis and timber from the USS Constitution.

Since the founding the unit has commissioned over 3,000 officers.

Prominent Midshipmen

Captain John W. Young, USN (Retired)

Captain John Young was in the Georgia Tech NROTC class of 1952, graduating Magna Cum Laude with an Aeronautical Engineering degree. He was a naval aviator and test pilot before being chosen to take part in the Gemini Project for NASA. Young was one of the first astronauts and certainly one of the most experienced with six missions and a moonwalk.[citation needed]

General Raymond G. Davis, USMC

General Davis graduated from Tech in 1939, majoring in Chemical Engineering. He eared the Naval Cross and the Purple Heart in Peleiu in 1944 adn the Medal of Honor for rescuing a rifle company, his citation is here. He later won the Bronze Star and Distinguished Service Medal.[citation needed]

Captain David McCampbell, USN

Captain McCampbell was only in the Georgia Tech unit for a year before he was appointed to the US Naval Academy. After graduating from the Naval Academy he flew Grumman F6F Hellcats in World War II. He became the Navy's all time leading Ace with 34 victories, killing nine enemy planes in a single flight. For his conspicious galantry he won the Medal of Honor.[citation needed]

President Jimmy Carter

President Carter was a member of the Georgia Tech unit for one year before he was appointed to the US Naval Academy. When he graduated the US Naval Academy, Carter became an officer on a nuclear submarine and later put the questioning by Admiral Rickover into his book. After the navy, Carter became Governor of Georgia, and later would win the Nobel Peace Prize.[citation needed]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "History", Online
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Navy Unit Plans Open House" Technique [Volume 17, Issue 05], Print
  3. "NROTC Enrollment" Technique [Volume 21, Issue 05], Print
  4. "Elections" Technique [Volume 25, Issue 06], Print
  5. "V-12ers from the fleet also go to pre-V-12" Technique [Volume 25, Issue 09], Print
  6. 6.0 6.1 "From the Officer's Desk" Technique [Volume 25, Issue 12], Print
  7. "Banach to Head Seniors; Juniors Elect Dan Kyker" Technique [Volume 27, Issue 12], Print
  8. "Navy ROTC" Blueprint, 1959, Print
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