OCTOBER 31, 1955
NEW YORK—Recently I heard of a project which should be of great interest to all parents of men going into the Army, as well as to the men themselves. The Army has been doing a good deal of work with correspondence courses, but I don't think the average person has felt there was a great deal of interest—on the part of officers and noncommissioned officers, or on the part of soldiers themselves—in really furthering education.
The particular project I have heard of is an educational program in which Battery A 24th AAA MSL. BM. has taken part. The battery is stationed at Nahant in Massachusetts. Its commander, Captain Harold Stahlman, initiated the program, has supported it consistently and taken great interest in its development, which is of course the reason for its success.
This battery is a link in our continental air defense. It must be constantly vigilant for air attack. Secrecy surrounds the men's work, and there is little opportunity for outside activity. Many of the men had not finished high school, and it was arranged that the Lynn school system should give credit for all work satisfactorily completed. In that way, a man can finish his high school work at the Lynn schools and thus be awarded a diploma. In other cases, men are taking courses in such varied subjects as music appreciation or elementary psychology. This has led to a change in the reading matter one sees used by the men. It is not unusual, for example, to see them headed to a tour of duty with a book on physics under their arms.
To allow men in the service to do regular work of this kind, a great deal of planning has to be done in assigning their military work. It certainly is a new thing to hear a sergeant say, "I can't put so and so on KP, as he has to go to school tonight." Also, a great deal of work has to be done by the individual himself, since a civilian taking night classes would probably attend three nights a week, whereas a soldier is lucky to get to class one night a week.
Under the I and E officer's direction, men in the battery who are qualified act as tutors for the men taking courses for credit. Often they encourage a boy to go on with his work when he might otherwise decide it was too much trouble. As a result, it is not unusual, out of a battery of approximately 90 men, to find as many as 40 taking courses either at high school or at adult extension levels. The Army, of course, provides transportation, but the cooperation of the Lynn school system had to be obtained. This was willingly given though it has added considerably to the numbers in their evening courses and they receive no pay for these Army students.
The battalion commander, Lt. Colonel Tom Barnett, has been so impressed with A Battery's results that he has started similar programs in the other batteries under his command. It seems to me such a promising Army program of education that when I go to Boston on November 12 I hope to have a chance to drive out and get some firsthand information.