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Memorandum for the Assistant Chief
of Staff, G-3 [Andrews]
August 9, 1939 [Washington, D.C.]
With reference to the attached letters,1 and previous discussion of the matter, I wish you would seriously consider the establishment of an R.O.T.C. unit at the University of Alaska. I am not concerned about the matter of precedent, as the motive in this is national defense direct as pertains to a particular locality.2
The R.O.T.C. unit would be abnormal in many respects, as to numbers, as to character of courses, etc. We want to build up on as economical a basis as we can a military foothold in Alaska. An R.O.T.C. development would be very helpful, and the people would be available for instant use in an emergency.
I have included the letters pertaining to the Link Trainer, though this pertains directly to the office of the Chief of the Air Corps. But I agree with General Bowley that the development of a Reserve Air Corps in Alaska is important to us, and if the Trainer matter is not prohibitive, it might well be done.3
Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.
Document Format: Typed memorandum.
1. The attachments are not in the Marshall papers. Documents on the army’s interest in Alaska are in NA/RG 165 (WPD, 3512).
2. The War Department was being pressed by numerous secondary schools and universities which wished to inaugurate Reserve Officers’ Training Corps units, each of which required at least one army officer as professor of military science and tactics. Other institutions wished to expand existing R.O.T.C. units. In late July, Marshall refused even to send a public message praising Culver Military Academy, fearing that his interest in that school might get him into “hotter water.” “We are in the middle of a very difficult fight here with the Southern military schools, who have produced extremely heavy political pressure for the purpose of securing more officers with their R.O.T.C. units, based on the fact that Culver received two men this year” (Marshall to Leigh R. Gignilliat, July 26, 1939, GCMRL/G. C. Marshall Papers [Pentagon Office, Selected].) On the R.O.T.C. issue, see editorial note #2-077, Papers of George Catlett Marshall [2: 104-6].
3. A “Link Trainer” is a machine—resembling a small, hooded airplane mounted on a pedestal—used in basic training to teach instrument flying. Lieutenant General Albert J. Bowley commanded the Fourth Army, whose district included Alaska. The first step toward implementing the army’s long-range defense program for Alaska took place in August 1939 when construction began on an air base at Fairbanks. On the defense of Alaska, see Stetson Conn, Rose C. Engelman, and Byron Fairchild, Guarding The United States and It’s Outposts, a volume in the United States Army in World War II (Washington: GPO, 1964), pp. 223-30.
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr.(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 32-33.