The Final Days of the 96th in Oshkosh

Cadets at Train Station

Cadets waiting to depart Oshkosh on the Soo Line for the next step in their training, the classification center at Santa Ana, California.

 P2005.24.256. Courtesy of Oshkosh Public Museum.

In January 1944, with the major invasions of Europe still ahead of them, the Army began to reprioritize its personnel needs.  They needed well-trained and educated leaders in the infantry and other ground forces. On January 29, 1944, the 96th College Detachment received word that training in Oshkosh would end on June 30th. Until then, classes would continue. However, no new cadet classes would be added. Major Ferguson from the Western Flying Training Command made his last inspection of the 96th College Detachment on March 10th and 11th, 1944.  He expressed regret that the 96th College Detachment was among the units scheduled for inactivation.  Although the detachment was praised for its excellent record, and despite the Flying Training Command's recommendation that the 96th not be deactivated, the War Department had already decided to shut down the detachment.  The determining factor had been the detachment's location.  On April 1, 1944, the phase-out plan was accelerated, and the Army withdrew about 90% of the cadets from the 96th. They were reassigned to the Army's ground forces as part of a nationwide decision to transfer 36,000 prospective aviators into other branches. Two weeks later a scant 16 men remained in Oshkosh. On May 1, 1944, the 96th College Detachment was designated the 3078th Army Air Forces Base Unit, and the 96th was no more.

Section 3: The End of the 96th
The Final Days of the 96th in Oshkosh