Video: For V-12 participants, a time to celebrate and remember

Seventy years after they learned the basics of Navy life on the Bates campus, nine alumni of the college’s V-12 training program returned to campus for their annual luncheon.

Video by Phyllis Graber Jensen/Bates College

Gathering at the Benjamin Mays Center on Oct. 8, they shared stories, talked with faculty and students, and heard some music, old and new.

One of their members, Bates alumnus and saxophonist Louis Scolnik ’45, joined John Smedley (whose day job is as a physics professor) and Tim Clough for a selection of standards, including “I Only Have Eyes for You” and “I May Be Wrong.”

The Bates a cappella group the Merrimanders followed with tunes from their more contemporary set list.

Deployed at a number of U.S. colleges during World War II, the Navy’s V-12 training program was designed to speed the training of much-needed commissioned officers for both the Navy and Marine Corps.

At Bates, these “apprentice seamen” lived in college dorms and participated in classes alongside civilian students. All told, the program prepared 782 men for duty, including Bobby Kennedy, before disbanding in 1945.


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