ROTC and Harvard: How Goes It?

By Captain Paul E. Mawn USN (Ret) Harvard ‘63

Editor’s Note

We received an article presented to the Military Order of the World Wars in Boston on 7 September 2011 from the author, Captain Paul E. Mawn USN (Ret) Harvard ‘63, who is the Chairman of the “Advocates for Harvard ROTC”. The article provides an important update on an important subject.

The Advocates for Harvard ROTC mission is to promote diversity of opinion at Harvard and a climate of tolerance, acceptance and support for those Harvard undergraduates who believe in duty, honor and country as evidenced by their participation in the Army, Navy/Marine Corps and Air Force ROTC Programs now based at MIT.

Harvard president A. Lawrence Lowell stated in 1916: “The aim of a country which desires to remain at peace must be ready to defend itself, should train a large body of junior offices who can look forward to no career in the army, and can have no wish for war, yet who will be able to take their places in the field when needed”.

Harvard and ROTC –A current Sitrep from Captain Mawn

For 20 years after 1972, Harvard students, who were so motivated, could continue to officially participate in various ROTC programs which were then based at host school MIT serving only MIT & Harvard but also Tufts as well as other local colleges depending on the military service. Despite being thrown off campus, ROTC participation was never “banned” at Harvard.

However in 1992, a Democrat completely controlled congress and a Democrat president passed the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” law which caused many left leaning faculty at the College of Arts & Sciences to pressure the Harvard administration for de-recognition of the ROTC units at MIT serving Harvard cadets and midshipmen, which is analogous to derecognizing a fraternity.

As a result, Harvard Cadets and Midshipman were not allowed to indicate an ROTC affiliation in their yearbooks or official records. The denial of credits for ROTC courses continued of course and no Harvard facilities could be used for ROTC related activities, military uniforms were strongly discouraged from being worn on the Harvard campus. Although, Harvard kept all of the ROTC scholarship money from DOD for ROTC scholarship cadets and NROTC Midshipman but refused to pay any allocation of ROTC related overhead costs borne by MIT.

This situation between Harvard and ROTC gave birth to the Advocates for Harvard ROTC in 1993. About 5 years ago under the leadership President Larry Summers and efforts of the Advocates, consequently many of the above noted petty restrictions were removed. This contributed in part to the eventual firing of President Summers. While the “ball” was moved forward during this time, official recognition of the various ROTC programs for Harvard students remained elusive purely due to politics and the low level of participation in ROTC among Harvard students remained challenging.

Under the new administration of Harvard President Faust, short term goals of the Advocates was to not to lose any ground continue to maintain an on going dialogue with the Harvard administration as well as a conducting a pro active media campaign for official recognition of ROTC at Harvard.  Part of this effort involved promulgating the long tradition of Harvard grads serving our country and Harvard’s support for the military which was defined as the “Long Crimson Line”, with full honor to West Point for their wonderful description of their cadet tradition.

After months of negotiating with the Harvard administration, Advocates activities eventually resulted in a formal ceremony in Memorial Church to unveil the MOH plaque for the 17 Harvard alumni MOH recipients.  The event featured Gen. George Casey USA, Chief of Staff as the keynote speaker. In attendance were also President Faust and a Church full of Harvard alumni, many in their service dress military uniform.

On 3 March 2011, an important beachhead was established relative to struggle between Harvard and NROTC. However, the mission of the Advocates is far from being accomplished. The proposed tentative agreement with the Navy was laced with politics.

Unfortunately, the headlines of the Boston Globe and Herald as well as many other print and TV media noted: “Harvard opens the door to ROTC” which is incorrect and misleading for the following reasons:

1)     The decision for Harvard to again host a ROTC unit or multiple units on the Harvard campus is not a decision that can be made unilaterally by President Faust or the Harvard Corporation.

2)     The military is currently under a severe budget crunch and is not looking for added places to spend money such as new ROTC facilities and related overhead costs. During the 1970’s and continuing to the present time, there was a significant shift of ROTC units from the North to the South.  For example from 1968 to 1974, the Army closed 30 units at Eastern colleges and opened up 33 in the South resulting in Southern college ROTC units outnumbering Eastern colleges by 180 to 93.

3)     All of our military services are currently making all their officer candidate quotas and the need for more junior officers has decrease dramatically with the severe shrinkage of platforms and units in the last two decades since Desert Storm.

4)     Some (but not all) senior flag officers in the Pentagon view Harvard as well some other Ivy Schools as snobby elites with a detectable left wing tilt who personally insulted the military during  a time of war in the 1960-1970’s. Some of these senior flags with no Ivy connections are not chopping at the bit to spend more money on schools that have insulted their very existence.  Furthermore in a time of budget constraints, financially it is a lot cheaper to pay for students at an existing ROTC program at a land-grant institution rather then Harvard or Yale.

5)     Due to supply & demand, students desiring to AFROTC and the NROTC programs (excluding the USMC option) currently are required to have an engineering major. Unless a rare waiver could be obtained, all liberal arts majors will be left out in the cold

6)     Finally, a total population of only 20 cadets and midshipmen from all 4 Harvard undergraduate classes serving in the 3 ROTC units based at MIT do not provide a sufficient critical mass in to justify a ROTC unit hosted by Harvard in the near to mid term.

So far nothing has changed to date at Harvard relative to ROTC since the well publicized announcement of 3 March 2011, which was contingent on the ultimate certification by JCS and Sec Def that “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” will not affect our military recruiting, retention and readiness in a time of war.

On 22 July, this certification for DADT was stamped by the Obama administration and is effective on 20 September 2011. It is a done deal but the agreement of 3 March only involved NROTC and so far has left Army and USAF out in the cold.

So to summarize: it is still a challenging and ongoing work in progress for the “Advocates for Harvard ROTC”

Needed next steps: Harvard, DOD & US government

Prior to Harvard’s hosting an ROTC unit, there are more than a dozen other steps that are required by Harvard in the short, mid & long term beyond  the current tentative policy of 3 March 2011 relating only to NROTC. In addition, other steps need to be addressed in the long term by DOD, the Congress and even the White House.

Short term – Harvard – keep promise

  • Follow up on promise to provide an official ROTC space on campus
  • Official recognition of AROTC & AFROTC as well as NROTC
  • Pay promised ROTC overhead allocation to MIT since Harvard has been keeping the entire $40M + of tuition scholarship $ from DOD paid for Harvard ROTC scholarship students

Mid Term – Harvard attitude adjustment

Proactive outreach/ “quotas” for 2 classes of students who are most likely prospects for ROTC participation.

  • For Example:  Applicants with an ROTC scholarship in hand.
  • Veterans, especially those  with combat experience as does Columbia and Dartmouth of which some percentage  may desire a commission or would at least be mostly pro- military.

Such a step would greatly add to true undergraduate diversity at Harvard, most Harvard Cadets and Midshipman  have direct military family members.  Furthermore, the majority of Harvard undergrads have no clue about the military which is typically not on their “radar scopes” as a service option and they would more like consider joining the  French foreign Legion or even Roman Legions before signing up for the US military.

In addition, the awareness of military service has negatively suffered in the long term US cultural war; especially Hollywood and other media have generally been anti military for four decades. In addition, a significant part of this problem originates in the US public education system where children no longer  say pledge of allegiance in many high schools, lack discipline,  are often exposed to left wing revisionist, anti military history teachers and a minimization or abandonment of any positive military history. Harvard motto is “Veritas” (i.e. truth) which should be pursued and taught relative to the sacrifices, nobility and achievement of the US military where “Some gave all and all gave some.”

For the Harvard class of 2013, 5 out of 20+ applicants with Army scholarship were positively vetted by the Army for admission. The end result were: two rejected, two wait listed but did not get in and one  was admitted but was significantly hassled by Harvard financial aid office for room & board help that he went to West Point. For 2014, only one of 5 Army vetted applicants were admitted to Harvard

Another key objective would be to promote a climate of tolerance and acceptance for the US military at Harvard  College. For example, the Center for Public Interest Careers at Harvard College does not consider US military as a Public Interest career

The Harvard Alumni Association had a recent colloquium on “Reflection on careers in government service” – the good, the bad & the ugly” – no mention was made of the military as government service! However, several but not all of the Harvard graduate schools have maintained a positive relationship with the military for many decades, especially HBS and Kennedy School with annual program for national security fellow under the leadership of Advocate member, Lt. Gen. Tad J. Oelstrom USAF (Ret.)

An additional objective would be to stress and help market unique benefits of military service to Harvard students, the college and USA— teach real military history & leadership. There is no greater crucible for leadership, experiencing the unique “Band of Brothers” phenomenon , doing something beyond self, seeing  the world, be a patriot , living with real diversity and  multi-culturism as a shipmate or part of a battalion  and preserve freedom & national security

Longer Term – Harvard

  • Course credits for some or all ROTC courses – currently none are provided
  • Vetting and professors of Military and/ naval science as faculty members as well as junior officers as associate adjunct professors – a future battle if  Harvard becomes a ROTC host schoo
  • Implement effective actions striving to ensure Harvard has the best ROTC units in the countr Continue to appropriately honor Harvard military heroes and veterans
  • Return of military history geopolitical courses and professors (al la the  current black history bureaucracy). “Those who do nor remember the past are doomed to repeat it” – George Santayana (H-1886).
  • Proactively help ROTC to build up Harvard undergrad participation in ROTC

Beyond Harvard

  • DOD and congress need to provide a budget to expand ROTC activities at Harvard
  • Approve an eventual Harvard request to host one or more ROTC units, when qualified
  • Liberal waivers for non- engineering major participation in AFROTC & NROTC units

In conclusion, the glass is half full vice half empty relative to Harvard and the US military. In the mid term and hopefully in my life time, I am confident that the mostly patriotic support of our country & military by Harvard University over the last 375 years will be fully restored and the shameful stain of intolerance or indifference to our military and national security projected by Harvard over the last 4 decades will be neutralized.


History of the Long Crimson Line with a nod to West Point’s Long Gray Line

Harvard which is the oldest university in the USA was voted into existence by the General Court of the Mass Bay Colony in 1636 as New College. This name was changed to Harvard College in 1639 to honor the deceased John Harvard, a minister from Charlestown, whose will had bequeathed his entire library and a sum of money equal to half his estate to the College. Since the first Harvard graduation class in 1642, numerous Harvard alumni have served in the military of their country from the King Phillip’s War in 1675 through operations in Afghanistan.

Harvard now has more Medal of Honor recipients than any other university or college in the Universe, except for Military & the Naval Academies, Harvard, 17, 82 at West Point and 74 from Annapolis. The next closet MOH count among colleges is the University of Washington with 8 MOH recipient alumni (inc. Pappy Boyington).

Harvard grads served on both sides of the American Revolution when Patriots outnumber Loyalists by 7 to 1. During this conflict, 7 Harvard alumni were KIA.

During the Civil War 1,813 Harvard alumni reportedly served on active duty. Among the 1,195 names of Civil War veterans from Harvard documented by the Harvard Alumni Association, most people are amazed to learn that 22% were Confederates. An even further interesting related static is the Rebels represented 43% of all Harvard warriors who were killed in action and 32 % of those who died from disease or accidents.

On the Union side, 7.4% of Harvard alumni who served in the civil War were killed in action, another 2.8% died from accidents and disease with 20.2% of the Crimson Confederates KIA and another 4.7% killed from other accidents and diseases. It should be noted that the Rebs served for the duration of the war, while many union officers and enlisted only had short term service unless they re-upped. It would also seem that did not have the same quality and quantity of medical care as well.

Despite the availability of draft avoidance techniques such as foreign travel and the $300 exemption, chump change to most of these Yankee Brahmin families,  when war came many willingly Harvard families sacrificed their most precious assets—their children—to the Federal cause.The best indication of Harvard’s commitment to the war is found in the percentages of the eve-of-war graduating classes that served in the Federal army and navy: 42% of the Class of 1859, 55% of the Class of 1860, and 68% of the Class of 1861.

The 117 Harvard Union casualties are forever memorialized by picture and a brief bio on a plaque in Memorial Hall near the Harvard Yard which includes Major General James Wadsworth (H-28), the colonel son of Senator Daniel Webster (H-33), the 2 grandsons of Paul Revere, the grandfather of the architect, Buckminster Fuller (H-47) and Col. Robert Gould Shaw (H-60) of the famed 54th Mass Volunteer black infantry regiment. Furthermore, the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment was known as the Harvard regiment since most of the officers were Harvard graduates such as; Major Paul Revere (H-52), Surgeon Edward Revere (H-47, Major Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (H-61) and several others. These battle scarred warriors fought at Ball’s Bluff, Yorktown, Fair Oaks, Antietum, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.

Other notable Harvard alumni union Army veterans include 7 Medal of Honor recipients noted above as well as: Brig. General Charles Francis Adams (H-56) of the 1st Mass Calvary & great, grandson of John Adams and the grandfather of the Navy vet founder of Raytheon, Captain Robert Todd Lincoln (H-64), Major General & later President Rutherford B. Hayes Co of the 23rd Ohio Infantry Division (HLS-45).

However, nowhere on the Harvard Campus is there any recognition of the 64 Harvard warriors who died for their country which happened to be the Confederacy in which were their home states including: the Brig. General Ben Helm, brother in law of Abraham Lincoln of the 1st KY Calvary (HLS-53), BG States Rights Gist from SC commanding the 27th TN division (HLS-51) and Sgt. George Washington (H-64) of the 2nd VA Infantry who was the great, great grandson of President George Washington’s younger brother John.

In addition other Harvard rebels not killed in action included; Maj. General W.H.  Rooney Lee (H-57), 2nd in command of the Confederate Calvary who was the 2nd son of General Robert E. Lee CSA and Lt. General Richard Taylor (H-45), CO- 9th LA Infantry, the son of President Zachary Taylor, who after his sophomore year at Harvard made the foolish mistake of transferring to and graduating from Yale.

As mentioned Harvard has 17 Medal of Honor recipients among which include a father and son with combatants from every major US war since the Civil War. They are General Leonard Wood (HMS-84 & LLD-99), Col. & President Teddy Roosevelt (H-80) from Spanish American War, a Marine from the Mexican War at Vera Cruz in 1914, three from WWI, including the two CO’s of the Lost Battalions in the Argonne Forest.  Two are from WWII, including Teddy Roosevelt II (H-09) who received a DSC during WWI and was the senior flag on Utah Beach during the Normandy Invasion. Maj. General Pierpont Morgan Hamilton USAF a former WWI pilot (H-20) who as a wounded POW during WWII convinced an enemy general to surrender his division before an allied invasion in North Africa. He was the grandson of JP Morgan and the great, great grandson of Alexander Hamilton.  There are MOH recipients from both the Korean and Vietnam Wars who both jumped on grenades to save their platoon mates. Except for the latter two Harvard MOH recipients, none of the Harvard MOH recipients were killed in action for their heroics.

This pantheon of Harvard heroes included: Flag officers in the USMC, Navy and USAF, eight Army flag officers, four field grade Army officers, a Marine 2nd Lt. and an Army staff sergeant. Another perspective on the MOH recipients from Harvard, 29% were career military, 24% were lawyers, 18% were businessmen and 18% were politicians and 12% were recent graduates who were KIA with no other post graduate experience. Based on the Harvard Alumni Association, at least 11,319 men from Harvard served in the US military during WWI and many others were in the French Foreign Legion, French Army Aviation units, as well as the British and Canadian Armies.

I have also so far identified to date over 130 Harvard alumni recipients of the DSC and Navy Cross including the 2nd highest ace in WWI, Captain Doug Campbell- H-17). Among other notable Harvard military veterans include: President FDR (H-04), LT USN & President JFK (H-40), Captain USAF & President George W. Bush (MBA-75), 2nd LT Norman Prince AF – Founder of the Lafayette Escadrille Squadron (H-08 & HLS-11) who was killed in action, Captain Kermit Roosevelt USA who received the UK Military Cross (H-12), 1st Quentin Roosevelt USA (H-19)- killed in action, Lt. Gen Hanford MacRider USA- 3 Silver Stars (H-11), Capt. Leroy Anderson USA (H-29), Brig. General James Roosevelt USMC (H-30) the son of FDR – Navy Cross & Silver Star, Lt. Joseph Kennedy USN w ho received a Navy Cross and was killed in action  (H-38).  LCDR Charles Francis Adams USN (H-32) was the great, great, great grandson of President John Adams and founder, former CEO of Raytheon, Capt. Casper Weinberger USA- Bronze Star (H-38), Lt. Ben Bradlee USN (H-43) who is the former Editor in Chief of the Washington Post – NCM, Sgt. Henry Kissinger USA- Bronze Star (H-50), Lt. Ted Roosevelt IV (H-65) USNR – NCM who was SEAL in Vietnam and now is a senior partner of a major NYC investment bank, Lt. James Roosevelt (H-68) the grandson of FDR & currently CEO of Tufts Health Plan.

In addition to Memorial Hall noted above for the Union Civil War casualties, the only other military related memorial at Harvard is Memorial Church in the Harvard Yard which was dedicated in 1932 to initially honor Harvard alumni killed in the War to end of all Wars — WWI). However, subsequent wars through the Vietnam have necessitate the addition of more names on the walls of the Church which not totals 1,086 Harvard heroes who made the supreme sacrifice during WWII, 671, WWI (376 – including 4 who were in the German Army and 3 Cliffies), 17 names from the Korean War and 22 from Vietnam including the colonel father of the recent Army Chief of Staff – General George Casey USA.

Excluding the public Land Grant colleges, the blueprint for current ROTC programs at civilian colleges was initiated in 1913 under the leadership of General Leonard Wood USA with the active support of Harvard president A. Lawrence Lowell who stated in 1916: “ The aim of a country which desires to remain at peace must be ready to defend itself, should train a large body of junior offices who can look forward to no career in the army, and can have no wish for war, yet who will be able to take their places in the field when needed”. This effort joint military / Harvard effort was know as the “Plattsburgh movement” since an officer training camp was initially established at Plattsburgh in upstate NY in 1913. Until mid 1916, the Army officer candidates spent 4 weeks each summer at these camps where they paid for their own uniforms, transportation and subsistence with the US War Department just providing tents, rifles, bayonets, belts, ammunition and instructors. However, these regiments had no official standing as part of the military establishment until June 1916 when the US congress passed the Reserve Officers Training Corps directing the War Department to take over this training and activated all officer candidates into the Army.

During WWI, about 90% of the all the Army line officers were trained at Plattsburg or at similar facilities that later cropped up in other locations. Under the direction of Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt (H-04), similar Naval Plattsburg training facilities for Naval officers were establish on select US battleships. During WWI, Harvard in effect became a government military school until the end of hostilities when the military training at Harvard was scaled back significantly. However, the Harvard Army ROTC was reconfigured to be what was intended to be a permanent training unit. Harvard later welcomed one of the first 6 Navy ROTC units in the country in 1926. Harvard continued this crucial and patriotic service of training future junior officers until all of the ROTC units were thrown off the campus in 1971 due to the myopic and divisive politics relating to the Vietnam War. Although few in number relative to the past, many junior officers from Harvard have served proudly and honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as elsewhere around the world  over the last decade. The prime mission of the Advocates of Harvard ROTC is to help ensure that the Long Crimson Line of military service is enhance and continues for the decades to come.

Note: (H = Harvard College, HLS = Harvard Law School & HMS = Harvard Medical School  which are followed by class or abbreviated year of graduation)


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