By Sandi Gohn
In honor of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the USO has been collecting personal stories and photographs from veterans, military family members and USO supporters to add to our archives and share with our community. We believe that these stories matter, and that they should be remembered.
While many of these WWII submissions have come from military supporters like you, some have also come from our corporate partners, including Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU), the USO’s Worldwide Education Partner.
A History of Service Starting in 1941
Like the USO, SNHU has a history of supporting service members, dating back to 1941.
That year, according to the SNHU archives, the university held its first military-related program for 25 service members. The 14-week intensive course was designed to train the troops, stationed at Manchester Air Base in New Hampshire, to be Army clerks. Every morning, the men would report for classes at SNHU and then spend their afternoons on the air base training.
The program was extremely well-received; so much so, in fact, that on December 1, 1941, then-SNHU Headmaster Harry Shapiro received a letter from John I. Moore, the Manchester Air Base commander, praising the program:
“…I wish to extend my congratulations to you and your staff for the splendid cooperation which you have accorded members of this command in the clerical school which was concluded recently, I have received very favorable reports from the School office on the quality of work which the men were doing at the school and in the duties which the men are now performing.”
According to the SNHU archives, this special course was only held this one time, presumably because a few days after Moore sent the above letter, the U.S. entered the war.
Providing Support During World War II and a USO Connection
As men were sent overseas to fight, enrollment at SNHU decreased during the war. Still, the university adapted during these years by enrolling more women and positioning itself as a patriotic supporter of the troops.
Records show that the university was particularly proud of its former students who were involved in the war effort and had a collection of photographs and newspaper clippings about their wartime achievements. Additionally, according to the SNHU archives:
“As the war progressed, the school promoted itself as an option for those who wanted to prepare for patriotic service, offering Civil Service and Military Officer training … Advertisements from this period frequently led with reference to the school’s ‘complete secretarial’ program, with the accounting program appearing below and in smaller type.”
It was likely during this timeframe (although no exact date is recorded) that one SNHU graduate, Herman Karl Wolfel (‘42), wrote a note of thanks back to Shapiro for his time at the university. The letter, which is written on USO stationary, thanks Shapiro for inviting Wolfel’s parents to attend a SNHU graduation, even though Wolfel himself couldn’t attend the event due to his Army service.
“They wrote me how much they enjoyed it, and for that I shall feel indebted to you for some to come. Truly I appreciated your kindness and thoughtfulness,” Wolfel wrote.
Continuing Support for Service Members Today
Through the end of the war and beyond, SNHU continued its commitment for supporting military-connected students and their families.
Today, as the USO’s worldwide education partner, SNHU delivers educational resources and opportunities that help men and women in uniform, as well as their spouses, with transitions throughout their military journey and as they transition back into civilian life. Since first partnering with the USO in 2016, SNHU has provided valuable support to the USO and, notably, has worked with the USO to award 13 military-affiliated learners with full-tuition scholarships within just the past two years.
SNHU and the USO collaborate on events and programming at USO locations around the world to offer academic guidance, financial literacy support and education solutions that specifically cater to the unique dynamics of the military.
Every day, America’s service members selflessly put their lives on the line to keep us safe and free. Please take a moment to let our troops know how much we appreciate their service and sacrifice.