Delgado and World War II

By: Tyler Scheuermann
Like the rest of the country, New Orleans and Delgado in the 1940s were still recovering from the Great Depression and its aftermath. The new decade, however, would be characterized and remembered for one major event…World War II.

Delgado, still a young institution in 1940, was still flying high after the successful building and launching of two biplanes…The Maid and The Flash. Both planes were built on the City Park Campus and combined the expertise and skill of many of the students and faculty.

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the country shifted its focus and all of its resources into a retaliation effort and boldly entered World War II, a conflict it had tried to remain out of. Government officials, seeing Delgado’s aviation record, enlisted the school to train corpsman in the maintenance, upkeep, and operation of aeronautical projects throughout the war.

Given its new “mission,” Delgado boldly accepted the challenge. Security was tightened around campus and a large fence was constructed to protect what was inside. Students and instructors now presented IDs to enter Isaac Delgado Hall. Many of the courses were restructured to fit the new demand.

Next door on City Park Avenue (now the site of Delgado’s Administration Building), Andrew Higgins was busy planning and building “the boat that won the war”, his infamous landing crafts that would be made famous during the Normandy Invasion. Higgins also partnered with neighboring Delgado for both manpower and expertise in the project.

Delgado’s infamous welding department ran 24- hour instruction shifts to keep up with demand for the necessary knowledge and workforce. The popular program even welcomed women to the school for the first time in its 20-plus year history.

At the Charity School of Nuring, enrollment (760) was one of the largest in the country during the war years. The school offered a revolutionary re-certification program for inactive nurses to tone their skills and re-enter the workforce as the demand for nurses was higher than ever across the nation.

In the end, Delgado enrollment had rocketed and its mission was becoming ever-more clearer to the community. Delgado had answered its country’s call and made it proud.

Last June, a historical marker was dedicated at the front of the City Park Campus, honoring the site of the Higgins Plant and Delgado’s role in the war. The plaque recognizes the impact the site had on the war effort and the “Delgado Men”  who helped make it possible.

Commemorative plaque at former site of Higgins plant, now Delgado’s O’Keefe Administration Building 
Aerial photo of Delgado's City Park Campus in the 1940s, including the neighboring Higgins Plant
Higgins Plant on City Park Avenue, the site of Delgado's Administration Building (Building 37) today

No comments:

Post a Comment