Alumni Veterans Voices

In the process of planning for our feature story about alumni who serve and have served in the military, we invited readers to send in their memories or comments. Here is a selection. If you would like to add your story, please send it to Stevie Daniels, Lafayette magazine,

Robert F. Vandenberg ’43
“I graduated in 1943 and joined the Navy in August. I was shipped out to the South Pacific and spent three years aboard the U.S.S. Tangier, a large seaplane tender. We repaired and serviced PBY seaplanes until Japan surrendered. We stayed in Japan and Hong Kong for another six months. I returned home as a lieutenant and ended duty in December 1946.”

Joe Cornell ’62
“When I came to Lafayette in 1958, the military draft was compulsory for all males 18 and over. We were all issued draft cards with numbers, which, if drawn by your local draft board, meant that you had to report for active duty. Lafayette had a military science department at that time, and all students were required to take at least two years of ROTC. We were issued uniforms and rifles, the latter held in an armory below the Kirby Hall of Civil Rights. At the end of sophomore year, we could apply to the ROTC department to continue for our final two years and receive a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army reserve. If you were selected as a distinguished military graduate, you could elect to receive your commission in the regular Army with a commitment of at least three years active duty and choice of branch and assignment. I chose regular Army with armor as branch of service and Germany as first duty assignment.

“In August 1962, I was sent to Ft Knox, Kentucky, Home of Armor, for orientation. Because this was the regular Army, half of the officers attending were from West Point. Then, I was sent to Germany as part of 2nd Battalion, 1st Armored Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Division. Our mission was to defend the Fulda Gap in the event of war until relieved by the 2nd Armored Division. We never had to fire a shot in anger, but we trained as if we would. I was leader of 1st Platoon Charlie Company and later 2nd Platoon Bravo Company. In October 1964 I was reassigned to headquarters SETAF, a joint Italian/ American command in Verona, Italy. I was put in charge of the military motor pool and as a 1st Lieutenant, the lowest rank in this command. In October 1965 I resigned my commission and returned to the U.S. I consider my time in the military as one of the best experiences of my life, and I still go to reunions with those with whom I served.”

David A. Kelly ’62
“I left the College after my freshman year not knowing what my career path would be, but knew it was not industrial engineering. I discussed my leaving with President Ralph Hutchison, who appreciably told me that I could come back to Lafayette after my two-year military service. I was a Specialist 4th Class, stationed in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, as a cryptographer from 1957 to 1959. When I returned to Lafayette, President Roald Bergethon honored his predecessor’s promise and accepted me back in fall 1959. I majored in economics and business and graduated in 1962. Morrison Handsaker, chair of the economics department, nominated me to go to the University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business on a honors scholarship. I received my MBA and went on to found my own firm, Three Lakes Advisors Inc. in Greenwich, Conn.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use basic HTML tags and attributes.