U.S. NAVY OFFICER SUPPLY CORPS SOFT EPAULETS

Many former officers in the United States Navy Supply Corps have leveraged the training and education they gained while in the Corps to become highly successful in a wide range of businesses. Erstwhile Supply Corps officers who became Chief Executive Officers of major corporations (without first having family ties to those corporations) include John Bello (South Beach Beverage Company, or SoBe), Roger Enrico (PepsiCo), Eddie Carlson (United Airlines), James Mulva (Conoco-Phillips), and A.G. Lafley (Procter & Gamble).

Of course, not all of their education came solely during the period they served in the Supply Corps: Some went to famous business school such as those at Harvard and Wharton before or after serving in Navy, while others gained experience after their Naval careers working at major companies. But the training they received at the Navy Supply Corps School, which today is located in Newport, Rhode Island, created an extremely solid foundation upon which they could build for future success.

Before the opening of the NSCS, training of future Supply Corps officers came at civilian institutions or through on-the-job learning in the Navy. For three years, the Navy Department operated a Navy Supply Corps School of Application in Washington D.C., but it was shuttered after only three years, and training again reverted to on-the-job experience or, in some cases, correspondence courses through the mail.

A major change came in 1934 with the establishment of the Naval Finance and Supply School in Philadelphia, but it was open only to active-duty officer candidates; reserve-officer training would not come until just before the outbreak of World War II with the creation of the Supply Corps Naval Reserve Officers School in Washington, D.C. in 1941. Soon thereafter, the schools were joined to create the Naval Supply Corps School (NSCS), appropriately held at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business.

After graduating over 13,000 officers during the war years, the school at Harvard was closed and moved to the Naval Supply Operational Training Center in Bayonne, New Jersey; the name reverted back to NSCS in 1946, but as the Corps grew in size the facility there became inadequate. In 1954, the NSCS was moved to Athens, Georgia, where it operated until 2010 when the school moved to its current location in Newport, Rhode Island.

When the 2010 move was made, several interesting items were uncovered. Among these were a check written by the Saudi Arabian government in the amount of $700 million as payment for U.S. involvement in the First Gulf War; a “wall of fame” featuring Supply Corps officers who went on to fame and fortune, which besides the names mentioned above included NFL quarterback Roger Staubach and talk-show host Regis Philbin; and fragments of the USS Maine, the U.S. vessel sunk in Havana Harbor after an explosion that remains something of a mystery to this day.

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