Saturday, October 1, 2011

1 October 1918: Student Army Training Corps at UGA Take Oath at Noon

On this day in 1918, five hundred University of Georgia students who registered to enlist in the Student Army Training Corps were sworn in with a program "essentially military in its nature, with patriotic features." 

According to the Athens Banner, the ceremony plan sent by the War Department was as follows:

In compliance with these orders, all the membership of the corps will be assembled on Herty Field promptly at noon. The flag will be raised, with military ceremonies, and every man will repeat after the commanding officer the oath of allegiance. The general and special orders of the day will be read by the adjutant, and the special messages which will be transmitted by the Secretary of War. Four minute addresses will be made by Chancellor Barrow, Dr. E. L. Hill, Mr. W. T. Forbes, and Judge A. J. Cobb. The soldiers will then pass in review and the ceremonies will be concluded.

The Student Army Training Corps were created by the War Department the previous summer in order to conduct "emergent war education through the medium of colleges." Students who enlisted were inducted en masse across the nation on October 1st, 1918, and were considered soldiers on active duty.  There were two tracks of enlistment: 

High school gradutes of 18 years and over will be eligible to the ranks of the collegiate training division of the S.A.T.C. Grammar school graduates are eligible to the vocational section. Transfers will be made from one branch to the other in keeping with the ability shown by individuals.

All students would be monitored to see if they exhibited any sign of being "officer material," and if so, would be recommended for the Central Officer Training Corps. The War Department was also interested in students with scientific and technical skills who could be given "an opportunity to complete intensified courses of direct military value."

The S.A.T.C. program went into effect just a few months before World War I came to an end. By the middle of December, 1918, both Company B and Company A at the University of Georgia had been demobilized and its soldiers given honorable discharges. In late December, the University's Naval unit was demobilized, but those soldiers were placed into the Naval Reserves. 

All members of the S.A.T.C. were encouraged to keep their military insurance policies, but were not entitled to the Victory buttons distributed to veterans in spring of 1919.

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