2018 Spring LC Magazine

T HE F LY I NG MI DSH I PME N From the Holloway Plan to the Hallways of Williamsport Dickinson Seminary Junior College For Charles Zilch ’48, coming of age during World War II in Fort Littleton, Pa., a frontier fort along the “Forbes Trail,” there was only one career path he would ever consider: becoming a pilot in the Navy. “I think every boy in my high school class decided we were going to enlist as soon as we got our high school diploma,” reflects Zilch, now in his late eighties, “and that’s precisely what happened.” “My dad wanted me to go to Penn State and major in civil engineering, but I had no interest in that. I wanted to be a pilot. The Navy had put up a poster in the local post office that said, ‘Get a $35,000 Education Free. Become a Naval Aviator!’ So, I went to the recruiting office in Pittsburgh, took two tests, passed them both and became a member of the U.S. Navy. I graduated high school a month later.” B Y A L I V I A TAG L I A F E R R I America’s Post War Navy he war was won. Now, thousands of America’s soldiers, sailors and Marines who valiantly fought in the Second World War were coming home to their families, entering the job force or furthering their education, thanks to hard-earned GI Bill benefits. The exodus of experienced officers, especially naval aviators, was especially acute for the United States Navy. They had too few experienced pilots, and not even the number of midshipmen currently training at the Naval Academy could fill the void. Secretary of the Navy John Sullivan realized his branch needed to act quickly, so he tasked Rear Adm. James Holloway Jr., assistant chief of naval personnel, to spearhead an effort to recruit, train and retain more officers to meet the Navy’s future needs. Holloway and his cohorts soon came up with a novel plan: The Naval Aviation College Program. Known as the “Holloway Plan,” the program offered new enlistees two years of college, paid for by the Navy, followed by naval flight training in Pensacola, Fla. The enlistees would be known as “airmen recruits” and later appointed as aviation midshipmen — officer candidates — to parallel the career path of those enrolled at the Naval Academy. After completing flight training, the officer candidate would “get his wings” — the vaunted Navy Wings of Gold — and a commission in the U.S. Navy as an ensign, as well as two additional years in college to complete his education. In exchange, the recruit would agree to a minimum three-year service commitment. In August of 1946, nearly one year after Victory Day, Congress approved it unanimously. 22 LYCOMING COLLEGE 2018 SPRING MAGAZINE