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Mark Simonson

January 25, 2014

Oneonta students responded strongly to Victory Corps in 1943

Oneontans seem to have a history of responding when being called upon to help. Earlier this week, when our local radio stations held an on-air fundraising event to help rebuild the Doc Knapp Little League field, after being hit hard by vandals last weekend, a goal of $3,000 was set. Local listeners responded with more than $10,000 in only two hours.

In similar fashion in 1943, when students at Oneonta High School were asked to join in a voluntary nationwide initiative to mobilize students for more effective preparation in wartime service in a program called Victory Corps, response was tremendous.

Oneonta students were keenly aware of the war effort, as in the 1943 yearbook called The Oneonta High School Annual, 3½ pages were dedicated to “Boys in Service,” 837 in all, already in service to their country.

According to The Oneonta Star of Thursday, March 4, 1943, Harold V. Hager, then principal at OHS, began handing out Victory Corps manuals to students. They were given time to look over the requirements, and by March 15 they could sign up for special courses qualifying them for membership.

On the front cover of the manual was the Victory Corps oath, “I will effectively perform any Community War services within the limits of my ability; and I will diligently seek to prepare myself for future service, whether in the armed forces, in war production, or in essential civilian occupations.”

There were five special service divisions a student could serve in: Air, Land, Sea, Production and Community. The first three were limited to boys only. Oneonta faculty members were appointed as counselors to these divisions.

Student reaction was excellent, as the Star reported on March 25, “Registration for Victory corps courses at OHS closed on Friday with 569 students enrolled in science, mathematics, pre-induction and other classes related to the war effort. These classes meet the seventh period, with from six to 25 in each group.

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Mark Simonson

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