Among The Citadel men who died in World War II, the list begins with Maj. Lu Shu-Chin, a member of the Chinese Army killed in 1938.

He was part of the school's Class of 1929, coming to America on a scholarship exchange program.

Seven years later, the list ends with Pvt. Thomas E. Hinton Jr., who died during a rescue mission Dec. 5, 1945, in the northeastern Pacific.

In between, dozens more made the ultimate sacrifice, while others suffered horrible battlefield wounds. More than 6,000 with ties to the school joined the fight, though not all were recognized as graduates. Some 281 did not return.

Nearly 73 years after World War II ended, the conflict continues to be remembered on campus for the large numbers of cadets who dropped their education plans to defend the nation. They were sent to battlefronts all over the globe.

Six Citadel men died at Iwo Jima. One was shot down over Midway. Others stood their ground at the Battle of the Bulge.

Two future governors would joint the fight: Ernest F. "Fritz" Hollings and John West.

Perhaps most memorable is the Class of 1944, which earned the nickname the "Class That Never Was" after the call for soldiers, sailors and Marines nearly emptied the barracks and enrollment crashed.

Citadel historian Steven V. Smith said members of the Class of '44 are noted for getting their graduation rings early, as juniors. The school's ranks went from more than 1,000 to fewer than 400.

"In '44 there was a huge need for infantry replacements," Smith said. The drop in students was fed even further when the national draft age was lowered from 21 to 18.

The outbreak of the war, on Dec. 7, 1941, came as a body blow.

"It was a shock, like it was for the rest of the country," Smith said of the mood on campus once the radio reports came in that afternoon. Mobilization would follow, but the school's education mission didn't totally come to an end.

One key reason The Citadel was able to keep its doors open was the adoption of the Army's Specialized Training Program. The idea was to meet the wartime demand for junior officers and those with technical skills by promoting classes in engineering, chemistry, languages and medicine.

A good part of the credit goes to then-President Charles P. Summerall, who led the school from 1931 through 1955.

Today, the school remembers World War II on a regular basis through classes and overseas trips. Students study the lives of individual soldiers who perished. They also travel to American cemeteries in Europe to find those soldiers' final resting places. This year, a group is heading to Italy to follow the path of the 5th Army.

The trips are not the only recognition undertaken by the school. The Citadel Oral History Program includes the "Citadel WWII Alumni History Project," which includes 30 interviews with Citadel alumni speaking about their war experiences.

One of those interviewed, future S.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice A. Lee Chandler, spoke of being shelled by the Germans when he was caught in an open field.

"I was on the track team at The Citadel and I tell you, I utilized all that I could," he said. "I was a sprinter. But right in the middle of that field I got hit. I thought my hip was gone. I got hit in the side. But I noticed that I was able to keep on kind of going. And I did keep on going. I got in to a small decline place, kind of a hiding place, and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go on.

"And so I looked back and I had my eye glass things and all and I could see the captain and those back there and I started back, you know because I knew I couldn’t make it down there and do the reconnoitering because I felt that I couldn’t move this leg it seemed. So I just started pushing back inch by inch until I did get back. And then I was evacuated."

Another Citadel man, George K. Webb, said during his interview for the project that one of his experiences was just too horrible to fully explain.

“The most horrendous smell I ever smelt was later in the Bulge when I opened the door to a house, and a German soldier had been laying there for two or three days, and the stench was such that your stomach involuntarily vomited,” he said.

As the Allied victory looked inevitable, it didn't take long for the school's enrollment to begin to recover. By 1944 and 1945, cadets and graduates who were early into the fight finished their tours and returned home, launching or rekindling their educations through the power of the new G.I. Bill. The ranks would continue to fill out until the Korean War flared five years later. 

With the wars that followed, there is ample evidence on foreign soil of Citadel contributions. An estimated 47 Citadel men who gave the ultimate sacrifice lie in 15 U.S. cemeteries overseas.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 843-937-5551. Follow him on Twitter at @skropf47.

Political Editor

Schuyler Kropf is The Post and Courier political editor. He has covered every major political race in South Carolina dating to 1988, including for U.S. Senate, governorship, the Statehouse and Republican and Democratic presidential primaries.