Organized by the federal government and administered by the United States Office of Education during World War II, the Victory Corps was an extracurricular organization that prepared high school students for civilian and military participation in national defense efforts. Membership required participation in a physical fitness program, participation in war-related activities such as scrap drives or USO work, and enrollment in specified academic courses such as mathematics, science, and preflight aeronautics.

War Manpower Commission representatives.
Credit: Indiana Historical Society.

Several Indianapolis high schools participated in the Victory Corps program beginning in 1942. DeWitt Morgan, superintendent of the Indianapolis Public Schools, appointed Wilbur Barnhart, the vice principal and a commerce teacher at Manual High School, as the director of the program in the city. Students involved in the Victory Corps participated in a wide array of local war-related activities, including bond sales, scrap drives, and other volunteer work.

World War I fighter pilot and Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Eddie Rickenbacker (left) headed the High School Victory Corps' National Policy Committee.
Credit: Indiana Historical Society.
Revised March 2021

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