Armstrong’s Greatest Generation
In May of 1939, Armstrong Junior College coed Maree Helmken captured the sunny mood of springtime Savannah for a Life Magazinefeature on cool cotton dresses. Three months later, on September 1, Nazi Germany invaded Poland and Europe was at war.
World War II affected both the curruculum and the enrollment at Armstrong. Flight instruction launched students into the skies over Savannah. Armstrong’s male students exchanged their Big A sweaters for leather flight jackets.
New courses appeared in the catalog:
navigation, map-reading, aerodynamics, military terminnology, nautical astronomy, and wartime French.
A new science building provided state-of-the-art equipment.
The great exodus of male students occurred in the spring of 1943. Enrollment plummeted.
The campus became almost totally female. The 1944-45 college Bulletin listed one hundred and forty-seven male alumni, twelve female alumnae, and eight faculty members serving in the armed forces. Eleven additional names appeared as missing in action.
At war’s end, the veterans returned. They brought their G.I. Bill pay checks and added a lively presence to the campus. They organized veterans’ clubs, published a salty news-sheet, thrilled the girls, and leaned hard against the social conventions and constraints expected by the administration.
In the fall of 1999, Armstrong Atlantic State University awarded special degrees to two students from the junior college days whose academic career had been interrupted by the war and who had never been able to complete their Armstrong program.
Last updated: 6/10/2018