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CENTRAL VIEW for Monday, June 10, 2024

by William Hamilton, Ph.D.

College teaching: Also not in the brochure

Background: The Vietnam War created a demand for thousands of helicopter pilots. So, the Army took in thousands of high school graduates who had good grades and clean records, gave them Warrant Officer Status, and taught them to fly helicopters.

Off to Vietnam they went. Some, never to return. Many were badly wounded. Like so many of those brave draftees who served in Vietnam and Cambodia, college credits were not required to lay down your life for your country.

One day, in 1973, our Air Troop commander said, "Colonel, we are about to lose 100 of the Regimentís chopper pilots because they have no college credits."

"What?. You mean after these high school grads flew so bravely in Vietnam and Cambodia and they now risk their lives every night flying the East German Border, the Army wants to kick them out?" Sadly, the major nodded his head.

Immediately, I called Heidelberg for the Director of the University of Maryland -- European Division. After explaining my academic credentials and that we might have almost 100 adult students paying GI Bill Tuition to the University of Maryland, he designated Fulda as an Extension Campus of the University of Maryland -- European Division with yours truly as its Adjunct Professor. Wonder Wife would serve as our Registrar.

very young Warrant Officer who wanted to stay on Active Duty, signed up for a three-credit-hour survey course on Western Civilization. We converted an old German Army cavalry stable into a make-shift classroom.

For a second semester course, we took the unclassified version of the Regimentís war plan to be the covering force across the Fulda Gap to impede the invasion of Soviet tanks and made it into a war game.

I do not recall what we called the course; however, we picked an approximately appropriate course name out of the University of Maryland Catalog. We divided the class into a Blue Team and Red Team and the war-game battle raged all semester.

One aviator, a captain, already had a college degree and a Medal of Honor, about which few knew because he rarely, if ever, wore his Medal of Honor. I wish I knew if any our Warrant Officer students went on to obtain a college degree. But I do know one of the students went on to earn a Ph.D. and to become a renowned writer in the field of aviation.

Our Registrar made sure all of the Warrant Officers received University of Maryland transcripts for their six hours of college credit and that their Army personnel records were updated as well. Consequently, none of our Warrant Officers who wanted to remain on Active Duty were kicked out.

When Wonder Wife and I left Fulda, West Germany, for the States in 1974, our University of Maryland students were still flying the East German Border day and night and in all kinds of terrible weather, relying on instruments and navigation aids maintained by the "Needed Nine." As we boarded the plane for the USA, we could affirm that: No plan survives its first contact with reality and that none of what we experienced was in the brochure.

©2024. William Hamilton.

©1999-2024. American Press Syndicate.

Dr. Hamilton can be contacted at:

Email: william@central-view.com

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