Crow’s Nest Article - December 2016

The Naval R.O.T.C. Scholarship Fund, Inc.

By Chris Lilich, NU Class of 1992 


    In my last Crow’s Next article, I highlighted the rich tradition and history of the NROTC unit at Northwestern University, established in 1926 as one of the first six units in the country. With the recent observance of the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I’d like to take you back to the role our unit played in helping the country’s naval readiness for World War II, and the sacrifice made by one NU midshipman on the day that changed America forever. The following is excerpted from the Northwestern University NROTC website.

    “In the years leading up to World War II, the Northwestern battalion had about 60 midshipmen enrolled. At the time, the program provided no scholarships and did not require an active duty commission until the onset of World War II. Those who were commissioned were sent to the reserve force.

    After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the focus of the Northwestern NROTC unit shifted. The U.S. Navy set up a Midshipman Training School at the Chicago campus where nearly 26,000 college-age men received accelerated training to become officers in the Navy. This “Annapolis by the Lake” was one of only three set up by the Department of the Navy nationwide. Each of the 25 classes that participated in this program underwent a rigorous four month regimen to fuel the growing demand for junior level officers. Many of the men commissioned during the latter stages of the war were assigned to the landing craft that were so crucial to invading Japanese held islands.

    The war was not cost-free for the Northwestern community. Twenty three men commissioned under the Northwestern NROTC banner lost their lives during the four years of combat. One graduate, Ensign Hal Christopher, was serving aboard the USS Nevada (BB-36) when the Japanese attacked at Pearl Harbor.”

    According to the Naval History and Heritage Command, the Nevada was trapped during the attack.  Ensign Christopher lost his life when the ship was hit by one torpedo and at least six bombs. The Nevada still managed to get underway, but had to be beached due to heavy damage.

    As illustrated by Ensign Christopher’s story, Northwestern NROTC alumni have a long tradition of excellence in service which I know is a source of pride for all of us. The Naval R.O.T.C Scholarship Fund was established to help honor that tradition and assist Northwestern midshipman in their efforts to graduate and earn their commissions.

    Now to some updates. The Naval R.O.T.C Scholarship Fund board has been hard at work over the past several months organizing our semi-annual fund drive. Unit alumni were sent donation letters in November. If you have already sent a donation, thank you for your generosity. If you haven’t yet, we hope you will consider one in any amount. The Scholarship Fund has a simple goal – to provide financial assistance for deserving midshipmen to help them go into service debt free. And while the board has awarded over $60,000 to nine midshipmen over the past year, these awards fell short of what our midshipmen requested. Your ongoing support is needed and appreciated. And remember that 100% of donations go towards scholarship awards. The Fund’s modest administrative expenses are covered by investment gains, and our board serves on a purely voluntary basis without compensation.

    While we don’t use these updates to solicit donations, be on the lookout for our next semi-annual solicitation letter this Spring. We also accept tax-deductible donations anytime, online at, or sent to the Scholarship Fund at 14197 Classique Way, San Diego, CA 92129. I’d also request you take a look at the “Missing Alumni” list included in this Crow’s Next. If you have contact information on any of the alums listed, please contact Bob Shaw ( so we can update our records.

    As always, we continue to be thankful for all of you – for your past support and future consideration. Happy holidays to you and yours from the Scholarship Fund board of directors!

Navy Jack