Naval Training Unit on Quad, 1943

Over the past century, scores of Occidental College alumni, both men and women, have served their country with great distinction in all branches of the U.S. military. 

At least 65 Oxy alumni gave their lives in service to their country in World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Their names are inscribed on memorial tablets at the entrance to Choi Auditorium in the McKinnon Center for Global Affairs in Johnson Hall. Occidental was home to a U.S. Navy V-12 training program during World War II; after the war, the College built special housing on campus to accommodate the large number of veterans who enrolled, many bringing their families.

Occidental participates in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Yellow Ribbon Program. For qualifying veterans, Occidental’s contribution covers full tuition. The Barack Obama Scholars Program was launched in 2017 to empower the next generation of leaders to actively pursue the public good. Scholars are selected with an emphasis on first-generation students, community college transfers and veterans. The College was proud to honor veteran Cameron Peters ’18 as its first Obama Scholars Fellow. Occidental is consistently named a Military Friendly® School, a designation awarded to the top colleges that are doing the most to embrace student veterans.

Why We Served

Half a century after their time in Vietnam, alumni share their war stories—the camaraderie, the challenges, and how their Oxy education readied them for combat.


Occidental College military alumni include:

  • Lt. Cmdr. Marshall Beebe '35, U.S. Navy fighter ace, World War II; commander of the VF-17 Hellcats, the Navy's highest-scoring fighter squadron aboard the USS Hornet
  • Rev. Dianna Pohlman Bell '64, America's first female military chaplain
  • Adm. Marsha Johnson Evans '68, the fifth woman in U.S. Naval history to achieve the rank of rear admiral
  • Warde Fowler, Class of 1917, pilot in the 94th Aero Squadron -- the famed "Hat in the Ring" gang -- with ace Eddie Rickenbacker in World War I
  • Lauretta Beaty Foy '33, one of the pioneering members of the Women's Air Force Service Pilots in World War II
  • USAF Maj. James Luntzel '51, awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroically making air drops under heavy fire at Dak Seang, Vietnam
  • William Orr McConnell, Class of 1913, posthumously awarded the Army Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism in France, 1918
  • USMC Col. F. Brooke Nihart '40, author of the U.S. Military Code of Conduct and winner of the Navy Cross for action in Korea
  • John G. "Jack" Sheridan '36, Navy pilot, winner of the Navy Cross for his actions in the Battle of the Coral Sea in World War II
  • Nancy Miller Stratford '41, who served for three years in the RAF's Air Transport Auxiliary during World War II
  • Lt. Gen. Thomas H. Tackaberry '45, three-time winner of Army's Distinguished Service Cross, once in Korea, twice in Vietnam
  • Four-star Adm. Steven A. White '50, 19th and last Chief of Naval Material; served aboard the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine
Contact Veterans at Oxy