Detachment 600 at East Carolina

East Carolina and the AFROTC


Source: Records of the Air Force ROTC Program

Joyner Library Special Collections, University Archives #UA25-15.

Digitized version available online in Joyner Library’s Digital Collections.

Staff Person: Brooke Tolar

Description: Today’s post features a Daily Reflector Press Release draft concerning the establishment of Detachment 600 at East Carolina.  Cadets are currently working with this collection to curate an exhibit commemorating the 70th anniversary of the detachment’s founding.  Visit Joyner Library’s Digital Collections page to view digitized images of items featured in this post.


The Air Force and the ROTC

The Air Force ROTC is a program that trains cadets to become Air Force Officers while simultaneously earning a college degree.  The establishment of the United States Air Force and ROTC programs overlap and intertwine at several points. Technically, military training at designated institutions of higher learning (which would later transition into ROTC programs) began with the Land Grant Act of 1862.  Several decades later, the National Defense Act of 1916 officially created and named the Reserves Officer Training Corps (ROTC).  The Air Force, on the other hand, can trace its earliest roots to the Army Signal Corps which established an Aeronautical Division in 1907 and began testing its first airplane in 1908.  As a result, the Army formed a unit dedicated exclusively to aviation in 1913, sending its first air combat unit to the Mexican border in 1916 (the same year that the ROTC was officially named).

Founding Detachment 600

Although U.S. servicemen conducted warfare from the skies during WWI (1914-1918) and WWII (1939-1945), the United States Air Force was not established as a separate military service until 1947.  East Carolina Teachers College President, Dr. John Decatur Messick, and Lt. Col William Brown formed Detachment 600 the following year.  Brown, subsequently, became the detachment’s first commander. Demonstrating the sense of excitement and support surrounding this new venture, the initial 76 cadets formed a Cadet Club, a Rifle Team, and held the first detachment military ball that year.

Success for Detachment 600

Press Release

Advanced ROTC students attended a 6-week training camp in Orlando, Florida.

This Press Release draft, dated May 1949, emphasized the detachment’s successful first year. It went on to announce that thirty-three advanced students would be attending a six-week training summer camp in Orlando, Florida.  East Carolina’s students were to join five hundred others from fourteen additional institutions of higher education.  Anticipating further interest, the press release instructed applicants to write to the the College Registrar for more information.

As expected, interest in Detachment 600 increased over the coming years.  Enrollment numbers, for example, skyrocketed from 76 to 286 by 1949.  Additionally, the detachment succeeded in more than enrollment numbers.  In 1950, the Fourteenth Air Force rated the detachment “highly satisfactory,” after a two-day inspection. Subsequently, enrollment numbers increased during the 1950s and the 1960s when the detachment averaged a registration of nearly 300 cadets.

In 1958, East Carolina began offering a Flight Instruction Program that provided 36.5 hours of flying time and thirty-five hours of academic instruction.  As a result, certain cadets enjoyed new learning opportunities, enhancing their skills and experiences. Cadets in this program flew a 100 horsepower PA-12.

Angels and Detachment 600

Martha Van Hoy becomes the first female to fully enroll in Detachment 600.

Beginning in 1955, female students were allowed to enroll in Corps classroom work at East Carolina, but were not permitted to take part in drill.  In 1969, Ms. Martha Van Hoy became the first female to join Detachment 600, making the detachment one of five in the nation to accept women at that time. Certainly, Martha Van Hoy’s enrollment marked a major change in Air Force ROTC history.  Similarly, the Air Force itself was undergoing changes. The Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) who trained and served during WWII received official military service status in 1977.

Detachment 600 and the Archives

This year, Detachment 600 is collaborating with the University Archives to install a student-curated exhibit.  Select members of the detachment have been conducting research, selecting artifacts, and training to install their first exhibit that will commemorate the 70th anniversary to the detachment’s founding. The exhibit will be installed in March of 2018.

  • Reflector Press Release, May 1949. Records of Air Force ROTC. UA25-15. University Archives, East Carolina University, Greenville,
  • ECTC News Bureau Press Release, May 2, 1950. Records of Air Force ROTC. UA25-15. University Archives, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
  • News Bureau of East Carolina College Press Release, October 21, 1959. Records of Air Force ROTC. UA25-15. University Archives, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
  • “Sky Pirates,” 1955. Records of Air Force ROTC. UA25-15. University Archives, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
  • Photograph of Martha Van Hoy, 1969. Records of Air Force ROTC. UA25-15. University Archives, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC.
  • “Overview.”
  • “About AFROTC History.”
  • “Air Force History.”
  • “Female WWII Pilots: The Original Fly Girls.” National Public Radio Inc. March 9, 2010.
Sandra Bullock in The Three Sisters Program.

Sandra Bullock and the East Carolina Playhouse

The East Carolina Playhouse

Source: East Carolina University Archives UA28.01 

Staff Person: Brooke Tolar

Description: Today’s post features an original program for Anton Chekhov’s The Three Sisters as presented by the East Carolina Playhouse.  This 1985 production cast list includes future Oscar-winning Actress and ECU alumni, Sandra Bullock.  Visit Joyner Library’s Digital Collections page to view digitized images of items featured in this post.

Sandra Bullock in The Three Sisters Program.

Official Program for East Carolina Playhouse’s presentation of The Three Sisters featuring Sandra Bullock and Kevin Williamson.

The East Carolina Playhouse began as the Teachers Playhouse during the mid-1940s.  This campus organization was initially designed to “give its members practical experience” and “promote an enthusiasm for the drama in all its phases (1949 Tecoan, p. 105”  Over the years, the Playhouse’s popularity increased, as did student participation.  Campus yearbooks often boasted successful seasons, paying homage to the actors and actresses involved.

Sandra Bullock and The Playhouse

Sandra Bullock enrolled at East Carolina University in the early 1980s, by which time the Playhouse served as a well-established campus organization.  She landed starring roles in several Playhouse productions during her college years.  In The Three Sisters, Bullock played Irina, the youngest of three Russian sisters seeking deliverance from unexceptional, small-town lives. Additionally, she starred as Jean in Stage Door (1983) and as Tiger Lily in Peter Pan (1985).  Interestingly, another noteworthy ECU alumni, future filmography icon Kevin Williamson, acted alongside Bullock in her 1985 Playhouse performances.


Photograph of Sandra Bullock playing Irene in The Three Sisters.

Image and cast list featured in the 1986 copy of The Buccaneer, p. 182.

Sandra Bullock in Stage Door.

Sandra Bullock (front and center) playing Jean in Stage Door. Image taken from the 1984 copy of The Buccaneer, p. 234.



Leo Jenkins on Guadalcanal

"Joe Cool on Guadalcanal."

“Joe Cool on Guadalcanal.”

Source:  Leo Jenkins papers, UA90-06

Staff Person:  Arthur Carlson

Description:  This image features Leo Warren Jenkins serving on Guadalcanal.  Born in Succasunna, New Jersey, Jenkins enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1942 upon completion of his doctoral degree at New York University.  For his distinguished service, Jenkins was awarded a Bronze Star and two presidential unit citations.  In 1947, Jenkins accepted the position of Dean of Men at then East Carolina Teachers College.  He succeeded John D. Messick as President of East Carolina College in 1960 and in 1967 he was designated as the first Chancellor of East Carolina University.  As president and chancellor, Jenkins oversaw major increases in student enrollment, the addition of a medical school, a major building campaign, and spearheaded the drive for university status.  Upon his retirement in 1978 he continued to serve the citizens of North Carolina as a special assistant for Economic Development for Governor James B. Hunt, Jr.  Jenkins passed away on January 14, 1989.  Ever proud of being a Marine, he once remarked, “…it has been brought to my attention that there are more Marines enrolled in this institution than in any other college or university in the world. This pleases me very much for I shall always be proud of my association with these men. Since revolutionary war days, it has always been said that once a Marine always a Marine. This will be my lasting honor.”

Certificate for Captain Leo W. Jenkins for completion of Special Services reserve training at Camp Lejeune, N.C., 1949.

Source: Leo Jenkins Papers, Manuscript # 360

Staff Person:  Dale Sauter

Description:  Certificate for Captain Leo W. Jenkins for completion of Special Services reserve training at Camp Lejeune, N.C., 1949. Jenkins served as a Major in World War II where he saw action at Guadalcanal, Guam and Iwo Jima. For his military service, Jenkins received the Bronze Star and two Presidential Citations. In 1947 Jenkins joined the faculty of East Carolina Teachers College, where he served as Dean until being elected as President of the college in 1960. He eventually was named Chancellor, and retired in 1978. date: 1949; creator: U.S. Marine Corps

'Tis the Season for Studying


Source:  Daily Reflector Negative Collection (#741.5.d.34)

Staff Person:  Jennifer Joyner


The month of December is always a busy time for college students. At East Carolina University, Joyner Library has been bustling around the clock with students finishing their coursework and preparing for exams. The same was true in December 1954, when this photograph was taken by a Daily Reflector photographer. Even though times have changed and the landscape of the library looks much different today, Joyner remains the place to study on campus. To see more photographs of Greenville’s past, be sure to check out the Daily Reflector Negative Collection, Manuscript Collection #741.

Sadie Hawkins Day Race

Source:  University Archives Visual Materials Collection

Staff Person:  Arthur Carlson

Description: This photo from the University Archives shows East Carolina students participating in a 1953 Sadie Hawkins Day Race (UA55-01-4841). By tradition, on Sadie Hawkins Day girls ask boys to accompany them to a dance or on a date. The event originated in 1937 with the comic strip Li’l Abner when the town spinster, Sadie Hawkins, is sent in pursuit of the town’s eligible bachelors as they raced to avoid marriage to the “homeliest gal in the hills.”  The gender-based role reversal proved popular among female college students as Sadie Hawkins Day events rose in popularity across the nation. By 1952, Sadie Hawkins Day events were held in over 40,000 locations.  In this image, Fleming and Wilson Dormitories are on the right and the Old Cafeteria Complex is just visible on the left. The large building in the center rear is the original Austin classroom building.


World's Fastest Typist

Source: University Archives UA55-01-8226

Staff Person: Arthur Carlson


This picture from the University Archives features Cortez W. Peters, Sr who held the world record as the World’s Fastest Typist (UA55-01-8226).  Born in Maryland, Peters achieved a then world record of 141 words per minute in 1925.  With the advent of improved typing technology, Peters eventually peaked at 180 words per minute perfectly, a record that would stand until his son, Cortez W. Peters, Jr. surpassed his father.  A favorite guest of television variety show hosts, he also aided the Allied war effort during WWII by acquiring and donating typewriters for use by the Federal government.   A decade later, Peters opened with his son the first black-owned typing schools, the Cortez Peters Business Schools,  featuring offices in Chicago, Baltimore, and Washington, DC.  The schools served over 45,000 students.  He visited East Carolina to meet with business students during summer school sessions that allowed blacks to attend classes before the formal desegregation of East Carolina.  Peters passed away in 1964 at the age of 57 in Washington, DC.

First Floor Plans of the Austin Building

Source: University Archives Architectural Collection, 55-08-0043 

Staff Person: Kacy Guill 

The Austin Building was constructed in 1908 and 1909 and served for many years as the main classroom building and library at East Carolina Teachers Training School.  The Austin Building also included the school’s administrative offices, including the president’s office, and an auditorium.  The building was demolished in 1968 to make way for the Jenkins Fine Art Center.

 The plan of the first floor of the Austin Building dates before 1914 when an east wing was added.  A west wing was added in 1922.

ECU Winners of the O. Max Gardner Award

Source: UW0000/02/03/A/.1/HOWELL University Archives

Staff Person: Maury York

Description: In 1983, three recipients from East Carolina University of the University of North Carolina’s O. Max Gardner Award–Ovid Pierce, Francis Speight, and Stanley Riggs–posed with Dr. Gladys Howell and Kenlyn Riggs at a reception held in their honor. The award is given annually by the UNC Board of Governors to recognize a faculty member in the system who “has made the greatest contribution to the welfare of the human race.”

First Graduation Ceremony

Source: University Archives, UA50-06-1010-01

Staff Person: Kacy Guill


The first graduation ceremony at East Carolina Teachers Training School occurred in May 1910. No degrees were awarded, but several students completed a one-year program for rural teachers. Beginning with the 1910 ceremonies through the 1940s, graduation ceremonies were multi-day events lasting as many as four days. Activities included a commencement sermon on the Sunday before the ceremonies, class day exercises, a commencement recital, an alumnae dinner, and graduating exercises.

Closing Exercises of the East Carolina Teachers’ Training School, May 20, 1910. UA50-06-1010-01. University Archives, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina.

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