Wayne Collins, ’48

It was so nice outside today I almost forgot to write a post. After a brief moment of panic I remembered that I had something ready. Remember this post from last week about the origins of the Rice NROTC unit? It drew an interesting comment from Wayne Collins, ’48:

I was one of the 200 to apply for the first NROTC class at Rice Institute in the fall of 1941. Applications were accepted from the freshman class and the members of the Sophomore class that would agree to complete the 4 year course. As I recall the NROTC building was complete when I arrived on campus in the fall of 1941. The shooting range was near where the south gate is on West University. After the physical which many more passed than the 110 available slots the powers that be felt sure the test we were to take would cut the numbers down to 110. To their surprise none were eliminated so we were run back through the physical. I was eliminated for overbite. After the Mid-term test and the famous washout of freshman there were openings in the first class of NROTC. I applied and this time passed the physical which turned into another story later in the spring when the Bureau of Medicine questioned why I was fit in February 1942 and not in September of 1941. Captain Dupree, the first C.O. of Rice NROTC solved the problem and I remained in the unit, called to active duty with the unit July 1, 1943 and remained at Rice for my junior year. As a member of the Drum and Bugle Corp, with 3 others I shared to top floor of the Faculty Tower. Members of the first year Rice NROTC were commissioned with the rank of Ensign USNR at the end of their 3rd year in February 1944. At least one a Second Lt. in the Marines, the rest to various assignments in the Pacific and Atlantic serving on Surface Ships, Amphibious Forces, Underwater Demolition [forerunner of Navy Seals] Submarines, and Naval Aviation. A large number of this class returned to Rice in 1946 and graduated in the classes of ’47 and ’48. Rice being Rice I was told when I attempted to register as a senior I did not have BA 200 and EE 300. When I said I completed Navy Navigation instead of BA200 and Naval Gunnery and Ordinance instead of EE 300 I was told “Mr Collins the war was over”. I picked up a couple of electives and had two great years joining the class of ’48.

I then heard from Wayne’s daughter, Cristle Collins Judd, ’83, who sent me via email a handsome picture of Wayne in his NROTC uniform in 1942:

WayneNavyROTC1942

Equally interesting, she also included a short piece from a 1943 Thresher about her dad leading a Naval Orchestra at a sophomore dance–the first I’ve ever heard of this group:

WayneSwingBand 5

(I couldn’t help but notice that one of the folks in charge of decorations for this dance was Lawrean Davis, last seen on these pages in the “Lawrean and Wally” video from October.)

Bonus: Here’s a website that Wayne’s family put together for this 87th birthday a couple of years ago. It’s worth clicking on for the photo of him with the bottle alone.

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11 Responses to Wayne Collins, ’48

  1. Bill Peebles '70 says:

    What a different world that was.

  2. mjthannisch says:

    That was my thought too, I wish we had had semi-formal and formal dances. I wonder when those vanished?

  3. Isn’t Rondelet vaguely formal? And Esperanza vaguely semi-formal? Do those still exist any more? The Shepherd School held a Spring Formal late last April and it was a huge success. Of course we all have formal wear anyway. 😉

  4. mjthannisch says:

    I think Rondolet and the Archie Arts Balls were somewhat formal, but never went to either. 😦

  5. Thomas T. Barnhouse, Feb '44 says:

    I stumbled across this website during a Memorial Day search for two classmates in the first graduating class of the Rice NROTC in February 1944: Gordon Rhemann. who was lost at sea when his ship was torpedoed by an enemy submarine near the Philippines, and Cotton Sims, who was lost at sea when his submarine failed to return from a Pacific war patrol just before the end of the War.

    Wayne Collins describes details about the Rice NROTC that began taking applications for admissions in September 1941. His descriptions are accurate. When I applied for admission as a sophomore in September 1941, I failed the physical, along with a number of other applicants, like Irwin Farb. We suspected we might have been “failed” because the quota for admission had been met by more favored applicants. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, more openings in the Rice NROTC were announced, and I passed the physical and was accepted in January 1942, along with Irwin Farb and others. In view of the “needs of the service” at the time, this class was graduated in February 1944, completing the four-year course in Naval Science and Tactics in two years. I was among thirteen graduates, who also received our degrees from Rice along with our commissions as ensigns.

    When I read the news about the University’s Hundredth University, I was sad that I saw no mention of the first graduates of the Rice NROTC, who served their country during wartime, including those who died in that service.

  6. Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

    When I first viewed the photo of the young Wayne Collins, I thought I was looking at “Little” Jim Norton (the smaller of the 2 Jim Nortons), of the Institute Class of 1956. Consulting the “1953 Rice Campanile”, p.160, I wasn’t too far off base.
    Little Jim left The Institute either during our first year or after the first year in order to accept an appointment to Annapolis. Sadly, James Orr ’53, later informed me Jim had died in a plane crash.

    Rice has had many good people. I appreciate them more every year as I read about them — unfortunately, too many times in their obituaries.

    R.I.P., ALL you good Owls.

    • Francis Eugene "Gene" PRATT, Institute Class of '56 says:

      James Orr was in the Class of 1956 also.
      ‘Tempus fugit’ and so do brain cells.
      😦

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