Moragan's of a Certain Age (hereinafter referred to as MOCAs) may remember the days when Saint Mary's College was unceremoniously "drafted" by the Navy and pressed into service as a pre-flight training center for desperately needed naval aviators.
The Saint Mary's College Republican Club is working to build an appropriate memorial and "appreciation garden" on the campus in an effort to recognize the students and ROTC candidates (one of whom was named Michael O'Connor) who abandoned their study of the Great Books in order to study navigation and ballistics from 1942-46. There's a bench and marker now but the club thinks a better job of preserving the memory of these airman can be done.
The sleepy little campus swelled from about 300 students to a little more than 2,000 as trainees travelled to Saint Mary's to learn the fundamentals of war.
Patch Tidbit: Your editor's father travelled by rail from the family home in San Francisco to visit his brother on the campus during this time. Uncle Mike saw action in the Pacific but was lucky, and made it home.
The pre-flight curriculum included boxing and swimming instead of Greek and Latin, temporary barracks were built along with a rifle range, and a pumping system which negated the campus' dependency on Lake LaSalle was installed.
Memorial backers are hoping to raise $80,000 for the project, which will be used to refurbish existing infrastruction, purchase additional landscaping, and hopefully have a dedication ceremony honoring all those young men who came, served and -- in some cases -- gave their lives.
They hope to have things ready to go by Veterans Day, Nov. 11, 2012.
All you MOCAs, or perhaps you sons and daughters of MOCAs, may send a donation to Saint Mary's College, P.O. Box 4300, Moraga, CA 94575, or click the link to visit their web site.