USC’s links to the U.S. armed forces stretch at least as far back as World War I, when the university served as a training school for U.S. Army officers from 1914 to 1919. But it was during the World War II era that the relationship blossomed.

USC served as a naval preparatory flight cadet school and hosted Army, Marine Corps and Navy training programs from 1939 to 1945. In this archival inset photo, thought to be from 1944, USC students enlisted in the Marine Corps march past the Student Union building. The Student Union housed a canteen for Trojan service members in its basement during the later war years, according to Claude Zachary, USC university archivist.

The U.S. Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps program at USC started in 1940. Today, USC continues its decades-long relationship with Reserve Officers Training Corps programs for young men and women who aim to enter the officer ranks in the Navy, Air Force and Army. More than 4,300 officers have been commissioned at USC since the programs began.

Visit USC Cromwell Field, Katherine B. Loker Stadium or the walkways around the Physical Education Building in the early morning and you’re likely to see cadets engaged in drills and fitness exercises. They may not be dressed like their Marine Corps counterparts from seven decades ago, but today’s officers in training remain a part of the military tradition that endures at USC.

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