Establishment of the Thirty-Second College Training Detachment (Air Crew)
The first contact that the government had with the College regarding the establishment of the Air Corps program can be dated back to January 20, 1943, when the United States Government sent a Western Union Telegram to Fred P. Corson, the president of Dickinson at the time.  This telegram stated, "We (the Government) need information in connection with possible army air force program for sending cadets to colleges where civilian pilot training facilities exist.  Categories which will be available March 1st (1943) or April 1st (1943) for this program and which could not be needed for probable civilian enrollment."(17)   Fred P. Corson responded to this telegram by communicating his interest in the establishment of such a program, noting that this program would be both "economically and socially worthwhile" (18) for the College to take part in.  Consequently, a letter of intent was drafted by the Army Air Forces Headquarters of The Material Command and sent to Dickinson, with the intent of giving the College more information about the Air Corps program.  This letter stated that Dickinson had been selected for the training of approximately five hundred trainees to begin on the first of March, 1943.  Furthermore, the document asserted that a government appointed planning committee would be visiting the campus to "establish the requirements of the training program and to prepare a formal contract which would authorize payment for services and facilities." (19)  From this Letter of Intent a formalized training unit contract was drafted and signed by the president of the College on February 18th, 1943.

This contract established the activating expenses ($81,679.40) of the program, the price for use of Dickinson's facilities ($3,444 per month), maintenance of the program, medical services for the cadets, the manner of payment between the College and the Government and issues surrounding the eventual termination of the program.  In addition, the seventeen page contract articulated the need for the College to "keep adequate records" of the program, as well as a requirement of anti-discrimination with regard to employment.  The agreement also established strict guidelines for the renegotiation of the aforementioned contract. (20)

In the minutes of the Board of Trustees Meeting, dated April 5, 1943, President Fred P. Corson broke the news of the agreement made between the Government and Dickinson regarding the initiation of the Air Corps program.  He stated that

Following intensive negotiations which took place last week, I have signed a formal contract with the United States Government for the conduct of the 32nd College Training Detachment (Air Crew).  At present, this Detachment consists of five hundred men.  There are, however, strong possibilities that the number may be increased to as many as one thousand . . . We have succeeded in effecting a satisfactory set-up regarding the physical conditions and the academic requirements.  Last week we were inspected and given a rating of superior. (21)

The original plan with regard to enrollment was that 250 cadets would enter the five month training period on March 1, 1943, another 250 would enter on April 1 1943 and after that, an additional 140 cadets would be added monthly, so as not to exceed 700 enlisted men on campus at any given time.  This plan however, was not followed, as the College was made to provide for an additional 250 cadets in the first month (March 1943) because other area colleges had wavered in their support for the program.

    The United States Army Air Forces provided the college with explicit instructions regarding the five month (744 hours) curriculum for the cadets.  They established a clear objective; "Preparation of Air Crew Students, both mentally and physically, for intensive ground training in the Preflight Schools." (22) This curriculum had three distinct areas which included academic preparation, military training and physical training.

Cadets In Their Daily Physical Training Session

The academic training "included such subjects to prepare the Air Crew Student for preflight, flight, and ground school instruction.  The general plan for academic instruction was to provide the student with adequate knowledge in the areas of Mathematics (80 hours), Physics (180 hours), History (60 hours), Geography (60 hours), English (60 hours) and Civil Air Regulations (24 hours).

In addition to this, military training was to provide the cadet with the "instruction in the basic military indoctrination, military customs and regulations, and infantry drill." (23)  In order to achieve this, the cadet was required to complete 84 hours in Infantry Drill, 40 hours in Ceremonies and Inspection, 120 hours in Physical Training, 10 hours in Hygiene and Sanitation, 10 hours in Customs and Courtesies of the Service, 6 hours in Interior Guard and 20 hours in Medical Aid. (24)

Perhaps the most important instruction the cadets received during their time with the detachment was their flight training.  The Air Corps required that each cadet obtain 10 hours of flight instruction while enrolled in the program.  All of the flight training at Dickinson was carried out at the former Wilson Airport in New Kingston.  As a result of the emphasis placed upon this instruction, the Government provided the College with detailed instructions on every aspect of the flight training.  Here is the schedule for each hour of flight instruction:

1st Hour-- Familiarization ride, straight and level, gentle level banks.
 2nd hour– Gentle climbing turns, gentle gliding turns, medium level banks.
 3rd hour– Review, steep level turns, stalls, steep 360 degree turns.
 4th hour– Stalls, spins, review.
 5th hour– Gliding turns, climbing turns, stalls.
 6th hour– Stalls, spins, landings.
 7th hour– Landing practice, Elementary Eights, Rectangular Courses.
 8th hour– Elementary Eights, Rectangular Courses, Landing Practice.
 9th hour– Rectangular Courses, Traffic Patterns and Landing Practice.
 10th hour– Traffic Pattern Flying, and Landing Practice. (25)

According to David F. Lenker, one of the twelve to fifteen flight instructors operating at the New Kingston Airport,  all this level of instruction was doing was "teaching the cadets to be comfortable in an airplane so that later the cadets would have some experience with flying." (26)

Aircraft Used In Flight Instruction at New Kingston

This curriculum, including the military, academic, physical, and flight instruction was followed with meticulous detail, as instructors were reminded that any fault in their instruction could prove detrimental to the overall education and ability of the cadets.

Many physical changes were made to the Dickinson College campus so that the cadets could be housed and fed in an effective manner.  For example, the Old Gymnasium --- on the corner of Louther and North College Streets --- was converted into a modern mess hall "supplied with adequate equipment and repainted."(27)  With regard to housing the men, East College, the Conway Hall, and several fraternity houses were converted so that the cadets could use them as barracks.  Perhaps the most notable alteration made to the campus came as a result of government funding which drastically improved the academic facilities of the college.  Both the Tome Scientific Building and Denny Hall were enlarged for instruction.  Dr. Herbert Wing states, "four new recitation rooms were laid out in the basement of Denny Hall; the museum of Tome was changed to a laboratory; and ten new rooms were constructed in the basement of Tome." (28) Furthermore, cadets also studied in West College, the Psychology building, and Bosler Hall.

When the program was initiated in the early days of March, 1943, the President Corson quickly established that he would be the director of the 32nd Training Detachment.  Soon after that decision, he appointed famed history professor Herbert Wing Jr. as assistant director, Mr. Benjamin James as Wing's assistant and Mr. George Shuman Jr. as the Business Manager.   The Army Air Forces originally appointed Major Fred J. Maurada as Air Corps commandant of the training detachment.  Major John D. Hartigan and Captain James Poach Jr. were also leaders of the Thirty-Second detachment as well.

          Roster of the Dickinson College Administrative Staff for the Training Detachment -click on picture for more details

According to an article from The Dickinsonian, "Practically every member of the college faculty was called upon to teach in the War College.  Some of them changed their field of work to the departments where there was special need- mathematics, physics and geography."(29)  In addition to the regular Dickinson faculty, Corson had to hire additional faculty and staff to account for the growing cadet population.  In fact, during the period of the Air Corps program, the Dickinson College faculty was nearly doubled. (30)  Most of these new faculty members were government paid, providing yet another advantage to Dickinson, as the College was able to save money on some of their instructor's salaries.

With the unfavorable fiscal situation the War had brought to Dickinson, administrators of the College realized the positive economic effects which the Air Corps program was having on the college.  Fred P. Corson in a April 5th, 1943 speech to the Board of Trustees asserts,

While the establishment of this program has required an unusual amount of effort . . . I believe that its establishment is very worthwhile.  We are demonstrating that we can run this College Training Detachment, and at the same time conduct our regular liberal arts course without interference.  The establishment of the College Training Detachment will enable us to carry out on our liberal arts college course with a very greatly reduced enrollment (possibly 200 next year) without the undue financial embarrassment, and also giving to the college a most important function in winning the war. (31)

Despite the fact that the Government maintained that no institution could reap any economic benefits from a program such as the training detachment, indirect profits were gained by colleges through renovation of buildings, government funding of staff salaries and other miscellaneous program operation costs.  These "indirect profits" were vital to Dickinson, who, like so many other colleges and universities throughout the country, was struggling to keep the institution economically solvent during the trauma of the second world war.

The trustees of Dickinson had numerous debates and discussions about fiscal policies which aimed to afford the College some monetary relief, especially in the post-war period.  "Post War Rehabilitation" was a subject that was clearly on the minds of the administrators of the College --- especially the more conservative minds --- as they speculated whether "increasing government participation in American Higher Education (like the Air Corps program) would shift the control . . . away from the independent college units and toward over-all government supervision." (32)  Furthermore, trustees of the College asserted that there had been numerous "anxieties and efforts" encountered in the establishment of the Air Corps program, also noting the conflicts of interest between the governmental negotiation committee and the administration of the College.  The minutes from a December 4th, 1943 trustee meeting states, "red-tape, mass regulations, conflicting policies and changing directives, coupled with the bureaucratic form of many headed management, have supplied strong arguments for ‘private collegiate enterprise.' " (33)  In the final analysis, however, despite the brood of difficulties which the establishment of the Air Corps program brought, administrators of Dickinson College clearly came to the realization that they could sacrifice aspects of their political agenda so that the College could secure some sorely needed economic relief.

Next Page

Introduction Dickinson and World War II Establishment Termination Remembrance Conclusion
End notes