Northwestern University Midshipmen's School Association
- Existence: 1940-2009
The United States Naval Reserve Midshipmen’s School, based in Abbott Hall on Northwestern’s Chicago campus, served a critical role in World War II. Then-Northwestern President Franklyn Snyder showed great enthusiasm for helping the U.S. cultivate young people to send to war on both fronts. Fresh college graduates would head to the newly-constructed building, which now houses NU’s law school, for just three months of training before heading off to war as capable members of various naval units. For this, these men and women earned the nickname “90-Day Wonders.” The students were trained in navigation, trigonometry, seamanship and ordnance, among other things. From 1940 to 1945, the school, also called the Navy V-7, trained 25 classes of graduates as part of the nation’s effort to beef up what was a relatively tiny military for a war on a grand scale. Although he himself was not a part of the V-7 program, former John F. Kennedy did receive training at Abbott Hall as part of an accelerated program for already commissioned officers.
Years after the war, Bob Wilch, head of the Northwestern University Midshipmen’s School Association, and his wife Sandra organized a series of reunions for the former Abbott Hall students and war veterans. Although not everyone knew each other (members come from throughout the training program’s five-year history) and had spent at most a few short weeks together in Chicago, the yearly reunions that continued until 2010 were well-attended as people bonded over the strong memories they had of their collective wartime past.