at 1610 University Ave, Madison, 53726 United States
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The University of Wisconsin-Madison and the United States Navy and Marine Corps share a long and distinguished history with each other that dates back to World War II. After Pearl Harbor and the US entry into the war, the University of Wisconsin offered its facilities and faculty to a number of Navy training programs. During the war years, approximately 20,000 active duty Navy personnel served as staff or students in a variety of training and education programs offered in conjunction with the University. During the war, Madison was a “Navy town,” and the university was a major naval training center. When, in 1944, the Navy disclosed plans to expand the NROTC after wars end, the University sought the assistance of Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, President Roosevelt’s Chief of Staff, in an attempt to secure assignment of an ROTC unit. Leahy grew up in Ashland, Wisconsin and earned appointment to the Naval Academy from the state. The University had presented him with a well-deserved honorary doctor of law degree in 1943. He reciprocated in 1945 by responding to its request for assistance in the NROTC matter. Lobbying for the University, Leahy wrote to the Chief of Naval Personnel, Vice Admiral Randall Jacobs: “What can you do for my university in the way of ROTC? It is a good school, a beautiful place to live, and as you know it has turned out some pretty good men for this war and throughout the past century including my father who marched away with his company to the Civil War before the ink on his diploma was dry.” With FADM Leahy’s help, Wisconsin was successful in its quest for an NROTC unit. The “Naval Reserve Officers Training Corp Unit, University of Wisconsin-Madison” officially came into existence on 1 November 1945 with an enrollment of 565 students. The curriculum at the University of Wisconsin, Department of Naval Science continues to reflect the same fundamental aspects of Naval Science present when the program began. While the NROTC student today studies such traditional areas as Naval orientation, ships engineering, Naval weapons, Navy and Marine Corps history, navigation and Naval operations, and Naval administration, the specific context today is considerably more complex and sophisticated. Over the years of NROTC on this campus, the Unit has added competitive drill, pistol, and rifle teams, seen numbers fluctuate with changes in demographics and popularity of military careers, survived the radical campus outbursts in the late 60s and 70s, and seen Naval science course credit ebb and flow. Wisconsin was one of the first NROTC Units to admit women after their participation became possible in 1973. Today’s Wisconsin NROTC student shares a proud heritage with the many hundreds of NROTC graduates produced since 1946. Those who have gone before have performed for their country, their university, and themselves with honor and distinction.
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