World War II disrupted every aspect of American life. Young, able-bodied men and women who would have attended High Point College were instead called upon to contribute to the war effort. In the years leading up to the war there was a civil air patrol training center on campus and classes were held in navigation and aeronautics. The decline in college enrollment during the war years, however, was tremendous. High Point College was no exception, with enrollment dropping to a low of 280 in 1943.
This all changed in February of 1943 when the 326th College Training Detachment arrived by train and marched to campus. Housed in McCulloch Hall they trained, marched, and went to school. By the end of the war the school had seen 753 cadets that earned college credit by taking five months of classes, and later many returned to finish a degree at HPC. The college also served as an observation post in the early 1940s. Training and sightings were done from the Roberts Hall tower—if a specific type of Airplane was spotted, spotters or students were told to call the command center at the airbase in Raleigh.
After the war, the Alumni Association compiled three volumes aptly titled Roll of Honor to recognize and document the contributions of individual HPC students and alumni, some of whom made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. These books, now fully digitized and available on HPU Libraries’ Archives page, are in remembrance of their service.
WWII Roll of Honor – Book 1 (A-H)
WWII Roll of Honor – Book 2 (H-R)
WWII Roll of Honor – Book 3 (R-Z)
Perhaps surprising as you scroll through these volumes is the fact that the women who served are listed alongside the men. Three women from HPC who contributed to the war are pictured below. Even more are listed throughout the Roll of Honor as WAVES, which was the United States Naval Reserve for women.
While every contribution to the war was integral to the Allies’ victory, many veterans memorialized in these volumes received medals for their courageous service. These include several Bronze Star Medals, awarded for single heroic acts in the armed forces; Air Force honors such as the Air Medal and the Flying Cross; and a handful of Purple Hearts–a presidential medal given to those wounded or killed in combat. Although there is no line in the Roll of Honor books designated to record these distinctions, loved ones of those memorialized did not hesitate to list them, along with other pertinent information, on the last line of each entry designated “next of kin.” The entry for Lt. James William Edwards, for example, informs the reader that he was a prisoner of war in Japan from January 27th to August 24th, 1945.
Unfortunately, other entries end with a heartbreaking account of the loved one’s death. The second volume of the WWII Roll of Honor includes at the beginning a digital excerpt from the High Point College Bulletin where all of those who gave their lives were memorialized together. Whether “killed in action,” “lost at sea” or “killed in a crash,” those whose entries are marked with a simple gold star made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
We are forever grateful.