World War II

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of World War II, HWS has initiated a regular series featuring the service of alumni, alumnae, and community members who were involved in war efforts overseas and at home. To honor all alums working for peace and a better world, the series explores themes of change, patriotism and pride that were intimately felt by the Colleges and across the globe.

From Hobart to Japan and Back

Warren Shaddock '46, P'75, GP'09 was a senior at Brighton High School in Rochester, N.Y. when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred on Dec. 7, 1941. Early in his freshman year at Hobart, Shaddock enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was called to active duty when the Navy V-12 Program was established on July 1, 1943.

For Shaddock, enrolling in the Navy V-12 gave him the opportunity to stay at Hobart for another year and complete three semesters. Aside from taking a full course load to satisfy the requirements for his chemistry and biology double major, Shaddock says that when he wasn't "hitting the books," his days were filled with Navy training. He remembers reporting for early morning muster and exercises before heading to classes and reporting back for inspection in front of Coxe Hall to make sure "our shoes were shined and uniforms neat." In addition to daily training, Shaddock recalls being marched to the YMCA where they learned how to "abandon ship" by jumping off the high tower into the pool.

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Committed to History: Kenneth E. Barden '47

Born and raised in Penn Yan, N.Y., Kenneth E. Barden '47 expected that enlisting in the Navy V-12 program would result in traveling the world and exploring major universities. But for his first phase of the V-12 program in July 1943, he was sent to Hobart and William Smith, only a short drive from his hometown.

"I'd always wanted to be at a big university, and when I was ordered to Hobart, I thought immediately, ‘Oh shucks,'" says Barden, a retired school teacher and administrator in the Mount Diablo Unified School District in Concord, Calif., who now lives in Valejo, Calif. "But I was already quite familiar with Hobart, and I was able to go home during my free time on weekends, so it turned out just fine."

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A Life of Peace Shaped By the Conflict

The history and legacy of World War II has shaped the lives of many Hobart and William Smith alumni and alumnae, particularly those who gave service to the armed forces before, during and after the conflict. Dr. Sheldon Feinberg '50 was one such alum whose life was touched by the historic events of the war years.

Born in Brooklyn during the Great Depression, Feinberg attended Polytechnic Preparatory Country Day School beginning in September 1942. At this time, the country and global community was embroiled in conflict with Germany. As such, Feinberg's formative years were spent learning to understand the effects it meant for his own life and the lives of his loved ones.

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HWS Reflects on World War II

World War II drastically changed America: most young people, especially men enlisted in the armed forces, put their lives and careers on hold to support the war effort. As a patriotic institution of change and engagement, Hobart and William Smith, too, was heavily invested in the global conflict during the war years. One of its most significant contributions, begun on July 1, 1943, was the Navy V-12 training program.

Since most young men were either being deployed or being trained to be deployed to fight in the war, Hobart College's enrollment totaled only about 30 students in 1943. When the Navy V-12 Program was instituted, several hundred Navy recruits arrived at the Colleges' campus in Geneva. A unique training opportunity, the V-12 unit members attended classes with HWS students and worked toward earning a bachelor's degree, all the while training to enter the war.

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HWS: A Site of Change (1941-1945)

When the United States entered World War II on the side of the Allies in December of 1941, Hobart and William Smith Colleges responded to the call to action immediately. During the course of the war, the Colleges hosted members of the Navy V-12 Unit on campus, allowing the recruits a space to train for combat and gain a college education. At the same time, the student body, dynamic in its response, contributed vastly to the war effort.

Mary Louise Walworth Koch '48 was a student during this critical period in American history and recalls the changes that the Colleges underwent in service to the nation.

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