HWS Reflects on 70th Anniversary of WWII

by Avery Share ’15 and Stephanie Kenific ’17

In commemoration of the 70th anniversary of World War II, the Colleges paused to reflect on the changes that transformed the nation and campus during the war years. Like colleges and universities across the country, Hobart and William Smith was invested in supporting the war efforts nationally and abroad. In 1943, then President of the Colleges John Milton Potter launched the Navy V-12 training program, bringing an influx of young naval officers to the Colleges at a time when enrollment was hovering just below 30 students.

A unique training opportunity, the V-12 unit members attended classes with HWS students and worked toward a bachelor’s degree, all while training to enter the war. From 1943 until the end of the war in 1945, it was common to witness the unit of naval officers assembling and marching across the Quad as they reported to Coxe Hall for their daily inspections and training. Even after it ended, the war had lasting effects on campus as the G.I. Bill brought in hundreds of veterans seeking a higher education.

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. Preparing to attend Hobart as a pre-med/pre-dental student, Shaddock’s plans changed course when the Navy V-12 program was established in the spring of his first year at the Colleges. Aside from taking three semesters worth of courses and reporting for inspection in front of Coxe Hall each morning, Shaddock remembers being marched down to the YMCA where they learned how to “abandon ship” by jumping off the high tower into the pool.

Warren Shaddock '46, P'75, GP'09

From Hobart, Shaddock was sent to midshipman school at Columbia University, and then to Harvard University for communications school, where he was trained to use a top secret electronic coding machine. Aboard USS Calvert APA-32, Shaddock was commissioned to Pearl Harbor and later sent to occupy Japan.

“We were anchored about seven miles from Hiroshima so out of curiosity a group of us took one of our landing crafts over to see it,” Shaddock remembers. “I believe we were some of the first Americans to see what it looked like after the dropping of the bomb. It was just miles and miles of utter destruction. We found stacks of dishes that had been fused together by the heat of the bomb, and gravel that had been fused to a porcelain pitcher.”

After leaving Japan, Shaddock received orders to return to Pearl Harbor at the command post of the amphibious forces until he had enough points to return to civilian life. He returned to Hobart, completing a final semester to earn his B.S. in biology and chemistry before heading to University of Buffalo School of Dentistry. Shaddock, who was previously married to the late Gloris M. Shaddock ’49, practiced dentistry for 42 years in Fairport, N.Y., where he still resides with his wife, Marlene Shaddock.

Kenneth Barden ’47 planned to attend a big university and “travel the world,” but his plans changed when he enrolled in the Navy V-12 Program and was assigned to Hobart College, just minutes from his home in Penn Yan, N.Y. Like Shaddock, Barden remembers the “rigorous exercises” and classes, describing his time in the V-12 program as a “stark contrast” to the ordinary college experience. From Hobart, Barden was sent to midshipman school on Lake Champlain in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and was then transferred to Florida, where he learned how to drive landing crafts. In December 1944, Barden was sent with the Navy to Japan for the Battle of Okinawa.

In charge of seven landing crafts with Marines on board, Barden was part of the initial landing in Okinawa on Easter Sunday in April, 1945. It was while preparing for battle that Barden experienced what he calls his “15 minutes of fame.” His story was recently featured in his local newspaper, the Vallejo Times Herald.

“Ernie Pyle, famed international war correspondent, came aboard my ship, APA-28, the Charles Carroll, for the invasion,” he said in the Times Herald article. “He rode in my landing craft from the time of departure to the line of transfer. Anchored, I was junior officer of the deck on the quarter deck, when a boat pulled up alongside. Clambering aboard came a tiny, wizened, jockey-sized man. It was Ernie Pyle, who had come aboard for the invasion.”

After returning from battle, Barden resumed his studies at Hobart and received his B.A. in history. He and his family moved to Concord, Calif., where he served as a teacher and later school administrator until his retirement in 1983. He currently resides in Vallejo, Calif., where he continues to share stories of his war experience with community members.

Mary Louise Walworth Koch '48

Mary Louise Walworth Koch ’48 remembers most vividly the war years as one of the few times in the history of the Colleges that the traditions of Hobart and William Smith were broken.

“I remember hanging out an upstairs window at the Sigma Chi house watching the young V-12s march up Main Street for their early morning drill,” she reflects. “There was a girl in every window. Why were girls in the Sigma Chi house? Because the V-12 had come to Hobart and needed large housing, so they commandeered the girls’ dorms and the girls dispersed to smaller housing like the fraternities.”

While Koch remembers the “hundreds of young men in their uniforms” preparing to serve their country, she also went on to lead a life of service that began during her time as a William Smith student. A three-sport athlete, Koch was a member of the field hockey, tennis and swimming teams, as well as a member of the Canterbury Club, the Herald, Schola Cantorum and the Big Sister Committee. After graduating from William Smith, she received a master’s degree in American and British literature from Northwestern University and became an English teacher in the Rochester City School district.

Emil Geering ’44 began his studies at Manhattan College but almost immediately enlisted in the V-12 program and was assigned to report to Hobart College for his training. While preparing to serve his country, Geering worked toward his B.A. in chemistry. The academic component of the program was of particular importance to Geering, who went on to receive his M.A. and Ph.D. from Polytechnic Institute of New York University in Brooklyn after returning from service.

“Many of my classmates were very enthusiastic and patriotic, so we volunteered for the Navy V-12 unit,” he remembers. “It was the best option of all our possibilities, because we could continue our college education as well as serve our country. To the professors we could just be typical college students, but of course we weren’t. We knew they were all very supportive of us and very patriotic.”

Grady Jensen '44, P'83, L.H.D.'04

After graduating from the V-12 program, Geering attended midshipman school in Chicago, and was then stationed in the Pacific Ocean on a tanker ship, the USS Gazelle, which refueled U.S. battleships in the Pacific Theater. In many ways, he calls his service “the best part” of his life. Geering went on to lead a career at Occidental Chemical for 39 years before retirement.

Grady Jensen ’44, P ’83, L.H.D. ’04, a former HWS Trustee, graduated before the V-12 program was launched on campus, but remembers well the atmosphere at Hobart and William Smith as the U.S. prepared to enter battle.

“I remember very specifically when Pearl Harbor happened on December 7,” he says. “I was in the Kappa Sigma Fraternity House, and a bunch of us were sitting around, and that Sunday afternoon when the news came on over the radio about Pearl Harbor we all just couldn’t believe it. They announced that President Roosevelt was going to speak the next morning, so we all crowded around in one of the lounges and listened to him calling for the vote to go to war. I wrote down in a journal that I could ‘feel the hairs on the back of my head standing up’ because we all knew sooner or later we were going to get called into war ourselves.”

On campus, he says, the whole “Geneva scene” was a very “interesting and stimulating one.” He remembers the war being on everyone’s mind visually, as well as helping to dig ditches with fellow classmates at Sampson Naval Base when it was being constructed across the lake.
Jensen graduated from Hobart in three years and joined the Navy Aviation cadet training program. Though never called into active duty, Jensen remained active in the Naval Reserve and even once flew a torpedo bomber to visit the Colleges, a trip that got him featured in a Finger Lakes Times editorial for his “dangerous” travels.

Jensen attended Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and went on to have a career that spanned nearly 50 years as he worked for Chase Manhattan, American Express, The Harwood Companies, New York University and Columbia University, retiring in 1996 as executive director of senior personnel employment.

Dr. Sheldon Feinberg '50

Dr. Sheldon Feinberg ’50, attended Hobart just after the end of WWII when the Colleges’ enrollment surged due to the G.I. Bill. Although not a veteran himself, Feinberg describes that while on campus, he was surrounded by American “heroes,” referring to the many WWII veterans that were his classmates.

“These men were like big brothers to me... And with the desire to have freedom and much fun, I started college along with my older friends, the veterans,” Feinberg reflects in his autobiography, Looking Back, and Sharing a Wondrous Life with You.

Crediting these veterans with inspiring his course of action following HWS, Feinberg enrolled in New York Medical College and joined the U.S. Air Force as a pediatrician. Stationed at the Donaldson Air Force Base Hospital in Greenville, S.C., Feinberg organized his entire Air Force Base in the construction of a Pediatric Unit while his commanding colonel was away on a brief vacation.

Following his discharge from the U.S. Air Force, Feinberg began working as a pediatric doctor in New Jersey. During his distinguished career of more than 40 years, he participated in investigative research on the Respiratory Distress Syndrome in premature babies and served as chair of various medical committees while founding the New Jersey Pediatric Society. He became best known for being a champion of child safety, and for organizing campaigns for school bus and other safety legislation. Now retired for 20 years, he still works to help family, friends and even other doctors, but no longer serves patients.


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