Saturday, January 15, 2011

15 January 1954: The Navy Supply Corps School Has Commissioning Ceremony

On this day in 1954, Mayor Jack Wells declared it to be "United States Navy Day" in Athens in honor of the official commissioning of the new Navy Supply Corps School. Local businesses would fly the American flag outside their establishments to welcome the dignitaries arriving in town for the ceremony, and many also purchased ads in the Banner-Herald to welcome the school, faculty, and cadets to Athens.

The noon ceremony was moved indoors to Pound Auditorium due to weather, and the featured speaker was Navy Assistant Secretary Raymond H. Fogler. Secretary Fogler discussed "the immensity of the Navy as a business," noting that supply corps ensure that every possible need for 400 combat vessels, 10,000 planes (with approximately 8,000 parts each), and 600,000 Navy men is met, from toothpaste to spatulas to replacement parts for jets and vessels. Mayor Wells noted that after hosting students of the Navy Pre-Flight School during World War II, "there is a soft spot in the heart of Athens for the Navy," and "We are glad to have them in our city."

The efforts of Georgia Representatives Carl Vinson and Paul Brown to bring the school to Athens were acknowledged by all speakers.

The Navy Supply Corps School was moved to Athens from Bayonne, New Jersey. It began with 400 students and 41 staff, with many of the officers bringing their entire families to Athens. Outside of training and classes, the school also had recreational athletic programs, an Officers Wives Group to organize and sponsor social events, a pistol team, a Philosophy Club, the Supply Line campus newspaper, the Oak Leaf school classbook, a debating society, and a choir.

The Navy Supply Corps School officially closed on October 29, 2010, as part of the graduation ceremony for the 82 men and women who are the last graduates of the Athens campus. Over the years, the school on Prince Avenue graduated 22,455 Navy "businessmen." Said Captain James Davis, NSCS commanding officer, "it is now our duty to bring the Athens spirit north and continue the Supply Corps legacy established during our 57 years in the Classic City."

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