Former student leaders discuss NC State during wartime

June 28, 2011
By Bill Krueger

The Senior Class officers of '41: Ralph B. Williams, William "Bill" Friday, Lee Roy "Shorty" Barnes

William “Bill” Friday was president of the senior class at NC State in 1941. Seven decades later, that position was held by Kristy Craig. And a lot of things changed at NC State during those 70 years.

NC State magazine recently arranged for Friday, Craig and Lee Roy “Shorty” Barnes, the senior class vice president in 1941, to get together to talk about some of those changes. The three of them talked about everything from the social scene on campus to the impact that various wars had on campus. Excerpts from that chat can be found in the upcoming Summer issue of the magazine.

Until then, here’s a taste of the discussion the three student leaders had about the impact that World War II had during the years Friday and Barnes were in school and the impact that wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have had during Craig’s years in school.

Friday: We graduated in June of ’41, and then came Pearl Harbor. But most people don’t remember that the war began in North Africa. In our class, they were the people who were on the front in North Africa.

NC State: Do today’s students talk about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan?

Craig: We do. It is something we talk about, but it’s a little bit different. Everyone knows about it and it’s definitely something that still hits home, whenever you have friends who are going. So I’m sure it was that way for you guys, knowing that your classmates, as soon as they graduated, were getting ready to go off and protect and defend our freedom.

Friday: I think we had 230 classmates. And more than half of them walked across that stage (at graduation) and had orders at the other end. We were the war class.

Barnes: I got orders from the Army for one year of active duty, the day after I got out of school. I went to Fort Bragg first and then I went to Fort Benning. After Fort Benning I joined a tank destroyer battalion. I ended up in what they would call the 654th Tank Destroyer Battalion.


3 Responses to “Former student leaders discuss NC State during wartime”

  1. brenda miller says:

    I have been searching for information concerning the 654th tank destroyer battalion I have found several pieces of onformation on the web pages. My father Halbert Williams was in the 654th a Sergent. My dad is 93 years old still alive lives in Lenoir City, Tennessee. I have printed some of the stories for him to read some things he remembered happening a different way. We would apprerciate any stories or pictures you could share. E-Mail me at

  2. Harvey Benison says:

    My father was also in the 654th TD Battalion. Is there a way I could get in contact with Barnes? My Father was in company B.

  3. mc mcnaught says:

    My father, Lt. David R. McNaught, was with the 654th

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