The USC NROTC was established on the USC Campus in 1940 under the command of Captain Reed M Fawell. During the following years, the unit operated on a reserve status until Jul 1943, when the NROTC was put on active duty with pay. The unit was housed in E VonKleinschmidt Hall which had previously been a women’s dormitory. Those of us who were there became a closely bonded family of young men who lived together, studied together, marched together, and by classes were commissioned ensigns and sent to various duty assignments in the Atlantic and Pacific war zones.
After losing contact with many of our shipmates, who were scattered all over the world, Dr Robert “Bob” Stevens, class of Feb 1944, decided to organize a 20th year reunion for the year 1964. That reunion was held at Allen Center Terminal Island with approximately 150 of the original 400 graduates of the war years. It was a huge success.
In 1981, Art Millbern, class of Feb 1944, called Bob Stevens, his old classmate and asked him for his help in forming an organization to put on a 40th year reunion in the year 1984. Of course, Bob was delighted. After many committee meetings and and intense search for shipmates lead by George Stone, Class of Feb 1944, we assembled approximately 165 shipmates at the Saddle Back Inn, Santa Ana California, to prepare for 1984. Among the many contributors to various committee activities was John Franklin, Class of Feb 1944. John took a strong and sincere interest in the entire project.
In March of 1984, Art Millbern, as chairman with many committee assistants staged a three day reunion at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Long Beach. Over 300 men and women attended this gala affair. A great deal of its success was due to the tremendous cooperation of the then Commanding Officer, Col C J Horn and his staff. They provided their champion drill team to perform for us at the ballroom. In addition, they provided the NROTC sail boat with its crew to give a bay cruise to all reunion attendees. This reunion was a great success in reuniting old friends and inspired a desire to organize future meetings.
John Franklin was very energetic and wanted to form an Alumni League of not only the wartime classes who attended the reunion but all future graduates from the USC NROTC. John asked reunion chairman Art Millbern to conduct meetings and assist him as president to organize a USC NROTC Alumni League.
John laboriously wrote the original constitution and by laws. He later put together detailed packages of material to show other NROTC units how to organize alumni leagues. These packages were sent to all NROTC units then in existance. Many of the now functioning Leagues originated from John Franklin’s efforts. John was a long time member of the Beverly Hills Navy League and that is where our name came from.
Art Millbern served as Chairman for the first four years of the USC NROTC Alumni League’s existence and still retains the position of Chairman of the Founders Group. As chairman, he stages an annual meeting of classes of the forties. John Franklin, although retired, remains as a member of the Board of Directors.
Written by Art Millbern, Class of 1944
dated Mar 17, 1997
Published in The Trojan Watch, Offical Newsletter of the USC NROTC Midshipman Battalion