Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Prairie View A&M NROTC Oral History Collection

Dates: 2010

Interviews with members of the first Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps Unit (NROTCU) at a Historically Black College or University (HBCU), Prairie View A&M University.

An article on the Prairie View A&M website, "Celebrating PV ROTC and NROTC," provides a history of the NROTC Program at Prairie View A&M.

For more information on how to access these oral histories, please contact the Navy Archives.

Baker, Clarence
Date of Interview: 14 May 2010
Interviewer: Randy Papadopoulos
Topics Discussed: Background prior to college, early career in the Marines, experience as instructor at Basic School and as battalion operations officer, assignment to Prairie View, challenges faced, how working with Navy different from the Marines, characteristics he looked for to select NROTC people, role of Naval Science Institute, OCS as a model for Naval Science Instititute, teambuilding, relationship between the NROTC and the community including the campus and the Army ROTC, his relationship with Captain Brady, the social side of being a naval officer, cultural mindset of the Prairie View NROTC members, what he did after his three years at Prairie View, importance of the program, and the military class of society.

Brewer, David L. III
Date of Interview: 14 May 2010
Interviewer: Randy Papadopoulos and CDR Harold Katz
Topics Discussed: Family background, attending Howard University, entering Prairie View NROTC program, participant in Prairie View student government, his darkest moment as student leader and midshipmen, bonding with other participants, unprejudiced white officers, treatment of African-Americans in Boston, naval career, interacting with supportive and non-supportive officers, standing his first watch as Tactical Action Officer aboard USS CALIFORNIA, his first thoughts about Prairie View, academics at Prairie View compared to Howard University, his interactions with the NROTC instructors, he was unusual in being third-generation college educated, graduation, he was resurrected by Prairie View, success of the first class, nurturing of the NROTC members, having social and leadership skills as opposed to traditional academic smarts, turning prejudice into power, his choice of surface warfare community. 

Fisher, Gordon
Date of Interview: 14 May 2010
Interviewer: Randy Papadopoulos and CDR Harold Katz
Topics Discussed: Family background, racial attitudes in Tennessee at time of his recruitment, his naval service prior to Prairie View, mentorship from LCDR Samuel Graveley, radio officer aboard USS CONSTELLATION, leaves Navy then returns four months later, reports to Prairie View, Captain Francis X. Brady, relationships inside the command, selection process for first NROTC midshipmen at Prairie View, intrusive approach to interaction with midshipmen, feelings about departing Prairie View, Captain Brody's command philosophy and his model at Harvard, culture at Prairie View and rural Texas in late 1960s, members of the NROTC staff, relationship with Prairie View's Army ROTC unit, naval support of and attitudes toward the unit, his concerns about being assigned to Prairie View, Naval Science Institute's effect on the program, how the participants selected their warfare communities, his departure from Prairie View, they were a special group, not surprised that they did well, mentorship of the midshipmen.

Hall, Ronald E.
Date of Interview: 14 May 2010
Interviewer: CDR Harold Katz
Topics Discussed: Biographical information, helicopter pilot, how Navy ROTC stood out from Army ROTC, leadership training, challenges of being a midshipman at Prairie View, how his Navy experience helped him in his subsequent career with General Electric, what the first summer in the program was like, his relationship with Captain Brady, cruise on USS LEXINGTON, flight training, fleeting training and time as surface officer, his time as Admiral Stockdale's Flag Aide, the instructors at Prairie View, did not think of self as special while at Prairie View, most memorable experience on the culimating senior cruise in Europe, naval aviation, how they might have prepared differently, leadership development, his time as commander of the unit, his work with the Prairie View midshipmen after he graduated, recruited Prairie View grads for GE, people can have what they want if they do the right things.

Mattox, Harvey
Date of Interview: 14 May 2010
Interviewer: Regina Akers
Topics Discussed: Biographical information, why he chose Prairie View, first impressions of Prairie View, caliber of the instructors his first year, how he heard about the NROTC program and the interview process, mother's reaction to his being in the program, getting to know the other participants, challenges he faced in the program, leadership of the unit, training in Pensacola, teamwork, Francis X. Brady, Gerald Thomas, seeing people from Prairie View later in life, camaraderie, graduation, service on USS CALCATERRA, incident off of Cuba, how their training at Prairie View might have been better, decision to retire, exposure to different world cultures, communicating with a Korean man by writing on paper towel, had interesting experiences because of the Navy, why it is important for him to tell this story, Admiral Zumwalt and the changes he instituted, incident in Cuba where he and two others objected to playing of "Dixie," incident in Mississippi at a yacht club where the group had to leave the swimming pool, George H.W. Bush speech at Prairie View. 

Mosby, David C.
Date of Interview: 14 May 2010
Interviewer: CDR Harold Katz
Topics Discussed: Biographical information, joined NROTC to avoid being drafted, naval career, racial problems aboard USS KITTY HAWK, augmented as engineering duty officer, civilian career, how he chose Prairie View, first impressions of the ROTC program, Naval Science Institute, USS LEXINGTON, failure not an option for the fraternity brothers, Francis X. Brady, leadership, Gordon Fisher, Gerald Thomas, mentorship, challenges faced, fitness reports, academic curriculum, most memorable experience in the NROTC program, graduation, relationship with Prairie View and the Navy now, changes in the unit since his day, the NROTC training prepared him well for his career, importance of telling this story, wife and daughter both Navy, working with institutional culture. Abstract on same CD and edited transcript available on separate CD.

Prairie View A&M Group
Date of Interview: 14 May 2010
Interviewer: Randy Papadopoulos, CDR Harold Katz, Regina Akers
Topics Discussed: Group Interview with the pioneering graduates and their instructors

Tarver, James
Date of Interview: 14 May 2010
Interviewer: Regina Akers
Topics Discussed: Biographical information, how he came to Prairie View, joined NROTC because he was sure to be drafted and didn't want to go into the Army, Gordon Fisher, leadership of the unit, his academic and military instructors, diversity, support of fraternity brothers, teamwork, orientation at the summer institute, Army ROTC program as preparation for the NROTC program, coming together as a unit, drive to succeed, balancing the program and academics, legacy of success, Gerald Thomas, mentorship, racially charged atmosphere in Athens Georgia, USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63) and race riot, shipboard culture, racial discrimination, augmentation, ineffective leadership, needed more African-American role models, Francis X. Brady, role models, Chief Resource Officer of Chief of Navy Technical Training, importance of telling this story.

White, Charles E. 
Date of Interview: 14 May 2010
Interviewer: Randy Papadopoulos
Topics Discussed: Biographical information, decision to go to Prairie View, joined NROTC to avoid the draft and avoid the Army, acquisitions, Civil Service, Gordon Fisher, Francis X. Brady, balancing academics with NROTC requirements, challenges of the program, reliance on roommates to succeed, not a scholarship program, role models, adaptability, leadership, differences between Navy and Army and the ROTC programs, pride at graduation, experiences at Prairie View were rewarding, supply corps, NROTC did not give them enough on lessons learned, fitness reports, more accountability and responsibility would've been good, contract administration, his involvement with Prairie View since he left.

Published: Tue Jun 15 10:14:02 EDT 2021