No, the vintage World War II photo at right was not snapped during combat operations in France. Nor Okinawa. Nor any other theater of the war. It was taken, instead, right here in West Philadelphia.
According to records from the University Archives, the photo shows a scene unlikely to play out in University City anytime soon: Penn students in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) going through a training exercise behind the University Museum. The students are shown entrenched in “fox holes” for this war game, though the record does not state if their rifles were loaded. (we hope not). Penn’s ROTC unit, which is affiliated with the Navy and Marine Corps, was founded just two years before the photo was taken, in 1940, at a time when demand for officers was, of course, very high. Penn maintains an ROTC unit for the Navy and Marine Corps today, though the unit also draws students from both Drexel and Temple.
For more on this and other notable moments in Penn’s history, visit the University Archives web site at www.archives.upenn.edu.
Originally published on December 7, 2006